A federal judge on Sunday postponed a Trump administrative ruling that would have banned the popular TikTok video sharing app from US smartphone app stores around midnight. A more comprehensive ban is planned for November, about a week after the presidential election.
The verdict followed an emergency hearing on Sunday morning in which TikTok attorneys argued that the administration’s app store ban would violate the rights of first modification and cause irreparable damage to the company. Judge Carl Nichols of the US District Court for the District of Columbia did not agree to postpone the subsequent ban.
Earlier this year, President Trump stated that TikTok posed a threat to national security and that it should either sell its US operations to American companies or be banned from the country.
TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, is crawling toA week ago, it tentatively partnered with Oracle, a giant database software company, and Walmart to seek the blessings of both the Chinese and American governments. In the meantime, it is struggling to keep the app available in the US
Judge Nichols did not publicly explain his reasoning, but instead submitted his judicial opinion under Siegel. Initially, both the US government̵
In arguments to Judge Nichols, TikTok attorney John Hall said that TikTok is more than an app in that it functions as a “modern version of a town square”.
“If this ban goes into effect at midnight, the consequences are immediately serious,” said Hall. “It would be no different than if the government locked the doors to a public forum and rappelled down the town square” at a time when free exchange of ideas is required to arrive at a polarized election.
TikTok attorneys also argued that banning the app would affect the ability of tens of thousands of potential viewers and content creators to express themselves each month, as well as affect the ability to hire new talent. In addition, Hall argued that a ban would prevent existing users from automatically receiving security updates, which undermines national security.
Justice Department attorney Daniel Schwei said Chinese companies are not purely private and are subject to intrusive laws that enforce their cooperation with intelligence agencies. The Justice Department has also argued that economic regulations of this type are generally not subject to the first amendment audit.
“This is the most immediate national security threat,” argued Schwei. “It is a threat today. It is a risk today and therefore deserves to be addressed today, even if other things are still going on and happening.”
Schwei also argued that TikTok’s attorneys could not prove that the company would suffer irreparable business damage.
The Justice Department set out its objections to TikTok’s application for a restraining order in a short seal, which, however, was unsealed in an edited form to protect confidential business information.
Mr Trump kicked off the process with executive orders in August explaining TikTok and another Chinese app.National Security Threats. The White House says the video service is a security risk as the personal information of its millions of US users could be disclosed to Chinese authorities.
Mr Trump has tentatively agreed to a proposed deal whereby Oracle and Walmart could initially jointly own 20% of a new US company, TikTok Global. But Mr. Trump also said he could withdraw his consent if Oracle did not have “complete control” of the company. The President did not explain what he meant by that.
The deal doesn’t stay closed, and the two sides have also argued over TikTok Global’s corporate structure. ByteDance announced last week that it would still own 80% of the US company after a round of funding. Oracle meanwhile made a statement that Americans “will be in the majority and ByteDance will not own TikTok Global”.
Government media in China criticized the deal as bullying and blackmail. ByteDance said Thursday it applied for oneAfter Beijing tightened controls on exports last month to get a grip on Washington’s attempt to force a full sale of TikTok to US owners.
China’s State Department said the government would “take the necessary steps” to protect its businesses but gave no indication of what steps it could take to influence the fate of TikTok in the United States.
TikTok is also asking a federal court to declare Mr Trump’s Aug. 6 order illegal.
The Chinese company said the president has no authority to take these measures under the national security law he cited. that the ban violates TikTok’s speaking rights for the first change and litigation rights for the fifth change; and that there is no authority over the restrictions because they are not based on a national emergency.