Ruling from judge stymies U.S. from banning TikTok downloads-for the moment
The TikTok story is an ever-changing drama with a storyline that changes rapidly. Bloomberg reports that this evening, U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols granted a preliminary injunction requested by TikTok owner ByteDance that temporarily prevents the U.S. government from blocking downloads of the short-form video app from taking place in the states.following a Sunday morning court hearing. The ban would have taken place tonight at 11:59 pm EDT preventing those who hadn't previously downloaded the app on their phone or tablet from installing it using the App Store or Google Play Store.
U.S. court gives TikTok some life in the U.S. by ordering a preliminary injunction
Without the Preliminary Injunction, U.S. consumers without TikTok would not be allowed to install it after midnight, and those who already loaded the app on their device would be unable to update the app to receive the latest features. Previous reports have noted that there are anywhere from 50 million to 100 million daily active users of the app in the U.S. and the app has supposedly been downloaded globally over 2 billion times.
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Users create videos of 15 seconds to 60 seconds in length showing off their lip-syncing abilities, dancing skills, comedic timing, and more. These are shared via the TikTok app. The Trump administration considers the app and its owner to be national security threats that allegedly steal personal data from U.S. users and send it to the Communist Chinese government. The president ordered TikTok banned unless its owner agreed to divest itself of some of the app's U.S. operations.
A deal that President Trump said that he agreed in concept with would give Oracle and Walmart minority stakes adding up to 20% in a new company that would be 80% owned by ByteDance. The company, to be named TikTok Global, is expected to go public through an IPO. During Sunday's hearing, which was conducted online, TikTok attorney John Hall said that the request by the U.S. government for a ban "was irrational" since ByteTalk is already in talks to complete the deal that the U.S. seeks. Hall said, "How does it make sense to impose this app-store ban tonight when there are negotiations underway that might make it unnecessary?" He also says that banning the app and preventing users from receiving updates would make the app less secure by preventing existing users from receiving weekly security updates.
The attorney also stated that the president is exceeding his authority by ordering the ban. "The consequences immediately are grave," Hall said to the the judge. "It would be no different than the government locking the doors to a public forum, roping off that town square."
Department of Justice attorney Daniel Schwei argued the case for the U.S. government. Schwei said that "the concern here is about data security risk and leaving data vulnerable to the Chinese government. It is a threat today, it is a risk today, and therefore it deserves to be addressed today." The U.S. government decided last week to extend its deadline to allow for more sale discussions. The DOJ attorney said in the courtroom that TikTok is "challenging a national security determination by the president as well as the judgment of the secretary of commerce about what’s necessary to mitigate those national security harms. And I think the court owes significant deference to that." On Friday, the U.S. cited the opinion of FBI Director Christopher Wray who said that China poses the "greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property."
China Daily, the government's state-run paper, wrote last week that "What the United States has done to TikTok is almost the same as a gangster forcing an unreasonable and unfair business deal on a legitimate company." Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief of state-run Global Times, said in a tweet that Beijing will never agree to the deal between Oracle, Walmart and ByteDance for a reason that is quite ironic. Hu said that the Chinese government would see the deal endangering its national security.