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U.S. judge blocks Trump administration's ban on new TikTok downloads

Published 09/27/2020, 11:16 AM
Updated 09/28/2020, 01:51 AM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The TikTok logo is pictured outside the company's U.S. head office in Culver City, California

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. judge has temporarily blocked a Trump administration order that was set to bar Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Inc's Google from offering Chinese-owned short video-sharing app TikTok for download at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday.

U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols in Washington issued the preliminary injunction in a brief order late on Sunday. He declined "at this time" to block restrictions set to take effect on Nov. 12 on technical and business arrangements which are crucial for the app to function properly.

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

The Commerce Department said in a statement it "will comply with the injunction and has taken immediate steps to do so."

The statement, which defended the TikTok order and Trump's executive order demanding owner ByteDance divest its TikTok U.S. operations, did not specify whether the government would appeal.

The injunction comes at a time when negotiations are underway to hammer out terms of a preliminary deal for Walmart (NYSE:WMT) Inc and Oracle Corp (NYSE:ORCL) to take stakes in a new company, TikTok Global, that would oversee U.S. operations. Trump has said he had given the deal his "blessing."

But key terms of the deal - including who will have majority ownership - are in dispute. ByteDance has also said any deal will need to be approved by China and Beijing has revised its list of technologies subject to export bans, in a way that gives it a say over any TikTok deal.

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TikTok said it was pleased with the injunction and added it would maintain its "ongoing dialogue with the government to turn our proposal, which the president gave his preliminary approval to last week, into an agreement."

John E. Hall, a lawyer for TikTok, argued earlier on Sunday that the ban was "unprecedented" and "irrational".

"How does it make sense to impose this app store ban tonight when there are negotiations under way that might make it unnecessary?" Hall asked during a 90-minute hearing. "This is just punitive. This is just a blunt way to whack the company. ... There is simply no urgency here."

Representatives for Chinese state media welcomed the ruling.

"I think it is in line with morality, justice and common sense," Hu Xijin, the editor in chief of the Global Times newspaper said on Twitter on Monday.

Chinese state media have said they see no reason for China to approve the deal, describing it as based on "bullying and extortion”.

Trump's administration contends that TikTok poses national security concerns as personal data collected on 100 million Americans who use the app could be obtained by China's government. Any deal will also still need to be reviewed by the U.S. government's Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).

The Justice Department said a preliminary injunction would be "interfering with a formal national security judgment of the president; altering the landscape with respect to ongoing CFIUS negotiations; and continuing to allow sensitive and valuable user information to flow to ByteDance with respect to all new users."

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Another U.S. 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 (OTC:TCEHY)' WeChat from U.S. app stores.

Latest comments

Freedom of speech and democracy. Donald Dump, let the people have their own freedom. It is our own privacy, not your. It is our own business, not your. It is our own decision to make, yes to TikTok or not.
U.S drama
So glad Microsoft is out of this nonsense
I sort of agree w the judge
We all knew you would agree with this result. If the POTUS says it’s a threat to national security I assume he has information that judges don’t get access to.
 You do know what happens when you start assuming? Any simpleton can recognize the threats posed by Chinese Apps. Potus motives on the other hand are simply self serving. If he was that concerned he would look into McConnell's clan...knee deep
Lol...The lemmings will be drooling with envy when fearless leaders tax acumen hits these forums tomorrow.  Get your tickets early.
China..  free market? Lol, it's still Communism.... whats to trust?
You got is is called Socialist with Chinese characteristics. That is why Warren Buffet said China has found their secret sauce.
Pre-market opens and everyone starts buying. Has no-one any sense. Tonight if that judge rules in favor of Trump, Xi already has a list of American companies to ban ready to go. Maybe hold off on that shopping spree till we find out what happens.
doubt that. If China retaliate u.s. companies, it simply falls into trumpster trap.
We are not here to prove anything...we are here to wait for proof of what you claimed...
We All Know this is Just a 'hookup' to from trump to mark zuckerberg; 'you-Scratch-my-back-i'll-Scratch-yours'
I know many in Hong Kong and they love China. Stop listening to Fake News media and the corruption here...
nobody loves the Chinese gov. Most of the people in the world actually hates it. The others simply don’t care about it.
You are wrong...there was a study done by an American college, forgot which one but one of the ivy league university...they found more than 95% of chinese approved their government. That is the highest of all nation. Also, people all over the world love China except for here, with the Fake News media and the yop spreading lies, so Americans are misinform...
Trumpster: A place where all of the empty promises and lies are stored.
Q: What relation is there between dumpster and trumpster?
I told you guys... it is not easy to ban TikTok....just take a look at the million that try to download the App before the ban date, that just shows millions doesn't care about politic football.
in india it is already banned
It was banned because of border dispute.
Can you say,"VOLATILITY!"
China wants the back and fed. they're hoping to stall and see if they can get a better situation with Biden
"Back and Forth"
Tenda too, Tenda routers have well known back doors. Their routers communicate to their servers in china without ur permission. Their excuse is for checking n upgrade features. We dont know if they do more behind our back.
 facebook founder zuckerburg is so Far up crony Politician trump's *******he looks like an overcooked barbeque!
like every other business men/women and politicians!
sank some u.s. carrier
get rid of this spyware
How do you know it is spyware? Send proof or otherwise it is all he said she said...
 Never Proved *anything* it is just veiled Racism.
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