Judge blocks President Trump’s ban on new TikTok downloads

Platform Economy: TikTok and US politics

A US judge has temporarily blocked a Trump government arrangement that has been set to bar Apple and Google from providing Chinese-owned video-sharing app TikTok for download at 11:59 pm on Sunday.

US District Judge Carl Nichols in Washington said in a brief order late on Sunday he had been issuing a preliminary injunction to prevent the TikTok app store ban from taking effect.

Nichols, a nominee of President Donald Trump, declined “at this time” to obstruct other Commerce Department constraints set to take effect on November the 12th which would ban technical and business arrangements that are crucial to the proper performance of the app.

Nichols’ detailed written opinion is expected to be released as soon as Monday.

The Commerce Department said in a statement it “will obey the injunction, and it has taken immediate steps to achieve that.”

John E Hall, a lawyer for TikTok, argued the ban was “unprecedented” and “irrational” during a 90-minute Sunday morning hearing.

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How does it make sense to impose this app store ban tonight when there are negotiations under way that might make it unnecessary?” Mr Hall asked during the hearing. “This is just punitive. This is just a blunt way to whack the company. … There is simply no urgency here”.

TikTok said it was pleased with the injunction and added it “will even maintain our ongoing dialogue with the authorities to turn our proposition, which the president gave his preliminary approval last week, in an arrangement.”

ByteDance said on the 20th September that it had struck a preliminary deal for Walmart Inc and Oracle Corp to take stakes in a new company, TikTok Global, that would oversee US operations after Trump said he had given the deal his “blessing.” Negotiations continue over the terms of the agreement and to resolve concerns from Washington and Beijing.

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The deal is still to be reviewed by the US government’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).

U.S. officials have expressed national security concerns that personal data collected on 100 million Americans who use the app could be obtained by China’s Communist Party government.

The Justice Department said a preliminary injunction would be “interfering with a proper nationwide security judgment of the president; altering the landscape with respect to continuing CFIUS discussions; and continued to allow sensitive and precious user information to flow to ByteDance with regard to all new users”

On Sept. 19, the Commerce Department delayed the ban to give the companies an additional week to finalize a deal.

Another US judge, in Pennsylvania, on Saturday rejected a bid by three TikTok content creators to block the ban, while a judge in California has blocked a similar order from taking effect that would ban Tencent Holdings‘ WeChat from US app stores.

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The team at Platform Executive hope you have enjoyed this news article. Initial reporting via our official content partners at Thomson Reuters. Reporting by David Shepardson. Editing by Bill Berkrot, Peter Cooney and Edwina Gibbs.

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