Moment of truth for TikTok, its fate in the United States sealed on Sunday

Moment of truth for TikTok, its fate in the United States sealed on Sunday

WASHINGTON | The immediate future of TikTok in the United States will be sealed on Sunday, following a hearing before a judge, who is responsible for confirming or suspending the disappearance in the country of the popular application from Sunday evening as the decided the government of Donald Trump.

The hearing, decided after an emergency appeal from Tiktok, is scheduled in Washington around 9:30 a.m. local time before Judge Carl Nichols.

It is closely watched by the business community and by Beijing, for whom the app, and more particularly its technology – algorithm – is a gem.

If the magistrate confirms President Donald Trump's decision to ban TikTok in the United States, the popular app will no longer be downloadable in the country from Sunday at 11:59 p.m. Current US users could then continue to use the app, but no longer update.

But the judge can also give a respite to the app of music and humor videos, visited every month by 100 million Americans. This was the case a week ago for WeChat, another tech flagship founded in China.

It is not excluded that an agreement will be reached between the Trump administration and the Chinese parent company of TikTok, ByteDance.

TikTok had requested this week an urgent appeal to the federal court in Washington, assuring that its ban would not be in accordance with the Constitution of the country.

The platform also argues that blocking downloads would cause it irreparable damage, as it gained some 424,000 new US users every day at the start of the summer.

In early August, Donald Trump signed an executive order to force the Chinese group ByteDance to sell the platform to an American company, in the name of the threat to “national security” – he has long accused TikTok of spying on its users for the benefit of Beijing, without proof.

A latest sales plan, announced last weekend, sees the creation of a new company, TikTok Global, involving Oracle as a technology partner in the United States and Walmart as a business partner.

There would also be a stake of 12.5% from Oracle and 7.5% from Walmart. The Americans would hold four of the five seats on the board.

But the finalization of this project depends on the goodwill of the American president and the Chinese government.

TikTok has indeed become the new symbol of the battle between the United States and China for the domination of the high tech sector.

Donald Trump has for months accused the spy application for the benefit of Beijing by collecting data from its users – without evidence.

Urgent appeal

On Monday, the host of the White House, campaigning for his re-election, insisted that he would not give his approval if the new group remained under Chinese control while affirming that Oracle and Walmart would own the majority of the new group.

ByteDance, which includes US investors, called the information “false rumors.”

If the negotiations are unsuccessful, a complete ban on TikTok's activities on US soil could come into effect from November 12, the Treasury has warned.

But ByteDance announced that it had made an “authorization request” to export technology, without specifying on what subject.

This initiative could concern the famous algorithm that made TikTok so successful: it allows users to display the content most likely to interest them, according to their tastes, and to lead them to spend as much time as possible viewing video after video on the platform.

China refuses to let this precious computer system fall into the hands of the United States.

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