U.S. judge suspends Donald Trump's TikTok ban

Elias Hubbard
September 28, 2020

A USA federal judge has blocked the ban of President Donald Trump's administration on the downloads of TikTok, a video-sharing app owned by Chinese company ByteDance. The judge, Carl Nichols of the US District Court for the District of Columbia, did not agree to postpone the later ban.

Should the deal not go ahead, a more sweeping ban will come into force around a week after the presidential election.

TikTok filed for the preliminary injunction Wednesday, saying Trump's order was a "pretext for furthering the President's broader campaign of anti-China rhetoric in the run-up to the US election".

The administration first launched an action against TikTok on August 6, with President Trump arguing in an executive order that the app posed an unreasonable national security risk for American citizens.

In the US, officials have said they are reviewing any deal with an eye toward meeting their own goal: wresting control of TikTok from Chinese owners over concerns that the data TikTok collects from USA consumers could be shared with the Chinese government, threatening USA national security.

"We store all US user data in the United States, with backup redundancy in Singapore", TikTok said in a recent statement.

U.S. and Chinese authorities are examining a partnership agreement between the Chinese operator ByteDance and USA firms, including software company Oracle. But Mr Trump also said he could retract his approval if Oracle doesn't have "total control" of the company; the president did not explain what he meant by that.

The deal is still to be reviewed by the USA government's Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).

During a telephone court hearing on Sunday, lawyers for TikTok argued that Trump's clampdown infringed on free speech and due process rights.

Before Sunday's hearing, other tech companies weighed in on TikTok's side.

The latest filings from the case are not yet publicly available and the last document of note was the sealed opposition submitted by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.

That deal was given preliminary approval by Donald Trump, but details of the deal still have to be worked out. "Yes, TikTok is an app, but it is more than that".

While its quirky videos seem innocuous, TikTok has drawn scrutiny over potential security threats.

TikTok has insisted that it operates completely independently of the Chinese government. ByteDance says Trump is exceeding his authority with the ban. It's proposed a deal that would create a new entity, called TikTok Global, that would include investments from Oracle and Walmart.

In a memo filed with the court on Friday, the US government said one reason for concern is a "high level" of activity between USA -based TikTok users and IP addresses located in China and owned by a Chinese company.

His language echoed the ruling of a judge in California who put a hold on Trump's WeChat ban last week, citing its effect on free speech and the irreparable harm that the ban would cause to the business.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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