Second US judge blocks Commerce restrictions on TikTok

Platform Economy: TikTok and US politics

A second US judge late on Monday awarded a preliminary injunction blocking the US Commerce Department from imposing restrictions on Chinese-owned short video sharing app TikTok that would have effectively barred its use in the United States.

US District Judge Carl Nichols in Washington issued an order in a lawsuit filed by TikTok-owner ByteDance over a month after US judge Wendy Beetlestone in Pennsylvania blocked exactly the very same restrictions that were put to take effect on November the 12th in a lawsuit brought by some TikTok users.

Nichols on September the 27th had blocked the Commerce Department from banning Apple and Google app stores from offering the app for downloads by new users.

A TikTok spokesman said it was “pleased that the court agreed with us and granted a preliminary injunction.”

Nichols, who had been named to the bench by President Trump this past year, said the Commerce Department “likely overstepped” its legal authority in issuing the effective TikTok ban “and acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner by failing to consider obvious alternatives.”

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The Commerce Department said it would “vigorously defend” Trump’s August executive order that authorized the restrictions and stated it “is fully consistent with law and promotes legitimate national security interests. The government will continue to comply with the injunctions.”

Nichols’ order enjoins the agency from barring data hosting within the United States for TikTok, content delivery services and other technical transactions.

On Friday, the Trump administration declined to grant ByteDance a new extension of Trump’s August order requiring it to divest TikTok’s US assets, but talks will continue, journalists at our partner news agency Reuters reported.

The Treasury Department said late on Friday the government “is participating with ByteDance to complete the divestment and other steps necessary to solve the national security dangers.”

The Trump administration contends TikTok poses national security concerns as the personal data of US users could be obtained by China’s government. TikTok, which has over 100 million US users, denies the allegation.

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Under pressure from the US government, ByteDance has been in talks for months to finalize a deal with Walmart Inc and Oracle Corp to shift TikTok’s US assets into a new entity.

A US appeals court will hear arguments on Nichols’ app shop prohibit injunction on December 14.

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. Additional reporting by Eric Beech. Editing by Chris Reese and Christopher Cushing.

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