TikTok Ban: US Judge Blocks Commerce Department’s Order to Bar App
A U.S. judge in Pennsylvania on Friday blocked a U.S. Commerce Department order that would take effect on Nov. 12 and would have effectively banned Chinese-owned short video sharing app TikTok from operating in the United States.
US District Court Judge Wendy Beetlestone ordered the Department of Commerce to prohibit hosting of data within the United States for Tik Tok, content delivery services and other technical transactions.
In its ruling, Beetlestone said the order “would have the effect of shutting down, within the United States, a platform for expressive activity used by approximately 700 million people around the world. More than 100 million of these TikTok users are within the United States, and at least 50 million of these US users use the app on a daily basis. ”
The Commerce Department, which did not immediately comment on Friday, has acknowledged that the restrictions “would significantly reduce the functionality and usability of the application in the United States” and “could ultimately make the application less effective.”
On September 27, US District Judge Carl Nichols in Washington issued a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit filed by TikTok owner ByteDance that prevented the US Department of Commerce from ordering the Google app stores of Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc which will remove TikTok for new users to download. That order had been set to go into effect that very day.
Nichols is scheduled to hold a hearing on Nov. 4 on the other aspects of the Commerce Department order that Beetlestone blocked on Friday.
Beetlestone’s order, in a lawsuit filed by three TikTok content creators, also blocks the app store’s download ban.
TikTok said in a statement that it was “deeply moved by the great amount of support” from its users “who have worked to protect their rights of expression.”
Talks have been held to finalize a preliminary agreement for Walmart Inc and Oracle Corp to take stakes in a new company, TikTok Global, which would oversee operations in the United States. US President Donald Trump said last month that the deal had its “blessing.”
The Trump administration maintains that TikTok raises national security concerns, as the Chinese government could obtain the personal data collected from 100 million Americans who use the app. TikTok denies the allegations.