The U.S. government delayed a ban on TikTok that would have forced Apple Inc. and Google to pull the video app from their U.S. app stores.
“In light of recent positive developments, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, at the direction of President Trump, will delay the prohibition of identified transactions pursuant to Executive Order 13942, related to the TikTok mobile application that would have been effective on Sunday,” the U.S. Treasury Department said in a statement.
The order has been delayed until Sept. 27 at 11:59 p.m. local time, the statement added.
The Department of Commerce on Friday ordered the app stores to stop distributing ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok and another Chinese-owned app, WeChat. The removals would have prevented new users from downloading the apps and TikTok and WeChat would not have been able to update the software for existing users.
That’s on hold now for TikTok, at least for seven days. The delay followed U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision Saturday to approve Oracle Corp.’s bid for the U.S. operations of TikTok “in concept.”
Read more: Trump Says He’s Approved Oracle Deal For U.S. TikTok
The looming ban has sparked deep concern across the internet industry. China’s communist government has blocked several major overseas internet services, including Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook, for years. In contrast, the U.S. has mostly fostered free expression online and kept its digital market open to foreign businesses. The crackdown on TikTok and WeChat by Trump represented a drastic policy reversal.
“It’s good that Trump greenlit this deal. Everybody loses with a ban,” said Daniel Castro, vice president at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. “These surprise announcements catch everyone off-guard and leave companies scrambling. It’s not good policy making.”
It’s unclear if WeChat, owned by China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd., will still be banned from U.S. app stores on Sunday. The statement from the U.S. Treasury Department on Saturday only referred to TikTok.
“WeChat is still on the chopping block,” said Castro from ITIF, the industry group. “And the administration had not given any indication that they see a scenario where they spare that app. The big question then becomes: who is next?”
— With assistance by Shelly Banjo, Josh Wingrove, and Jenny Leonard
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