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Published 25 September 2020
Opinion

If the negotiations get stuck or the final agreement does not satisfy Trump's demands and previously the Justice has authorized it, TikTok would be banned in the US

The United States Justice system will decide this Sunday whether or not to allow the plans by the country's president, Donald Trump, to ban the Chinese application TikTok if the business in that country does not go into U.S. hands.

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Sunday is the same day that, at midnight, the last moratorium decreed by the Commerce Department expires so that the owner of TikTok, ByteDance, agrees with its U.S. partners Oracle and Walmart on conditions that meet the requirements of the White House.

If the negotiations get stuck or the final agreement does not satisfy Trump's demands, and previously the Justice has authorized it, TikTok would be banned in the U.S. Users would not be able to download the application from the popular virtual stores of Apple and Google.

Judge Carl Nichols of the Washington DC district court set a hearing for 09:30 on Sunday local time (13:30 GMT). He will hear both the Government's arguments in favor of their right to block the application and TikTok against this possibility. It is expected that a few hours later, he will issue its verdict.

The Trump Administration had until this Friday to postpone the entry into force of a hypothetical ban (that is, grant TikTok a new moratorium) or present documentation to Nichols that justified that extreme.

Although the documents presented by the Commerce Department before the magistrate are secret and their content has not been disclosed, the fact that Nichols has called a hearing for Sunday implies that the Government has decided not to grant TikTok the new moratorium.

The situation for TikTok in the U.S. had become notably complicated in recent days compared to two weeks ago when the announcement that ByteDance was partnering with Oracle and Walmart to manage the application in the U.S. seemed to indicate that the matter was close to being resolved.

The problem stems from an executive order issued by Trump on August 14 that required TikTok to sell its business in the U.S., or else it would proceed to ban it, considering that Chinese property poses a threat to national security.

Even though the White House approved the "preliminary" agreement between companies, in recent days, the two parties - the United States and China - have offered contradictory versions about whether ByteDance would continue to form the central part of the shareholding of the new company that is created to manage the TikTok business in the U.S.

According to the version by Oracle and Walmart -which will control 20% of the future firm-, most of the new company will be US-owned. Still, according to ByteDance, they will hold the remaining 80% until its IPO takes place with an initial public offering in about a year.

The version of the agreement offered by ByteDance, therefore, would not satisfy the conditions of Trump's executive order, which last Monday insisted that he wants "total control" from the U.S. over TikTok in the country, so the threat of a ban remains in force. 

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