Judge temporarily blocks U.S. ban on TikTok downloads from app stores

Tech

CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — A U.S. judge in Washington has temporarily blocked a Trump administration order banning Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google from offering Chinese-owned short video-sharing app TikTok for download that was set to take effect at 11:59 p.m. Sunday.

U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols granted a preliminary injunction sought by TikTok owner ByteDance to allow the app to remain available at U.S. app stores, but declined “at this time” to block additional Commerce Department restrictions that are set to take effect on Nov. 12 that TikTok has said would have the impact of making the app impossible to use in the United States.

John E. Hall, a lawyer for TikTok, argued during the hearing that the ban was “unprecedented” and “irrational.”

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

U.S. officials have expressed national security concerns that personal data collected on 100 million Americans who use the app could be obtained by China’s Communist Party government.

ByteDance said on Sept. 20 it made a preliminary deal for Walmart Inc and Oracle Corp to take stakes in a new company, TikTok Global, that would oversee U.S. operations. Negotiations continue over the terms of the agreement and to resolve concerns from Washington and Beijing.

The deal is still 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 allowing Americans to continue downloading the TikTok app 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.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

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