This photo illustration taken on September 14, 2020 shows the logo of the social network application TikTok and a US flag shown on the screens of two laptops in Beijing.
Nicolas Asfouri | AFP | Getty Images
A judge has temporarily blocked an order from the Trump administration that would have banned TikTok from being downloaded from U.S. app stores.
At the end of the day on Sunday, the U.S. government could have forced app stores run by Apple and Google to remove TikTok.
But after a hearing on Sunday, Judge Carl Nichols of United States District Court for the District of Columbia, granted an injunction against that order.
The judge, however, did not block a much broader ban set to come into effect on Nov. 12 in the U.S., which could effectively make TikTok unusable.
TikTok said in a statement: “We’re pleased that the court agreed with our legal arguments and issued an injunction preventing the implementation of the TikTok app ban. We will continue defending our rights for the benefit of our community and employees.”
“At the same time, we will also maintain our ongoing dialogue with the government to turn our proposal, which the President gave his preliminary approval to last weekend, into an agreement,” the statement said.
The U.S. Commerce Department said it will continue to defend the executive order which is “consistent with the law and promotes legitimate national security interests.”
“The Government will comply with the injunction and has taken immediate steps to do so, but intends to vigorously defend the E.O. and the Secretary’s implementation efforts from legal challenges,” the department said in a statement.
Earlier this month, the Department of Commerce said TikTok would have to be removed from U.S. app stores on Sept. 20. That order was delayed by a week, to Sept. 27, as deal talks over the future of TikTok in the U.S. continued.
TikTok filed a request for an injunction, which was granted by Judge Nichols on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the state of the deal remains in flux.
Oracle and Walmart will take a 20% stake in a new U.S.-based company called TikTok Global. ByteDance, the Chinese parent company of TikTok, says it will own 80%. But Oracle has contested that, saying ByteDance will have “no ownership” of TikTok Global.
Washington maintains that TikTok, under ByteDance’s ownership, represents a national security threat because American user data could be sent back to China. This is a claim that TikTok has repeatedly denied.
During the unusual Sunday morning hearing, John E. Hall, a lawyer for TikTok, said any download ban would be “unprecedented” and “irrational,” according to comments reported by Reuters.
“This is just a blunt way to whack the company,” he added.
Lawyers for the U.S. argued that “ByteDance has significant and close ties to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) which could potentially be leveraged to further their agenda and exact pressure on ByteDance.”