US judge issues preliminary injunction barring order that would have made TikTok unavailable in the US, as administration seeks forced sale
TikTok has temporarily avoided being banned in the US, after a US judge issued an injunction blocking a US administration order that would have barred Apple and Google’s app stores from offering the social media app.
The administration’s order was set to take effect at midnight, Washington D.C. local time, on Sunday.
Judge Carl Nichols of the US District Court for the District of Columbia issued the preliminary injunction late on Sunday.
He said in a brief statement that he declined “at this time” to block further restrictions set to take effect on 12 November that affect technical and business arrangements needed for the app to function properly.
The administration’s executive order would have allowed existing TikTok users to continue using the app, while banning new downloads.
Nichols’ opinion was sealed, meaning no reason was initially given.
TikTok said it welcomed the injunction and would continue to defend its rights.
“We’re pleased that the court agreed with our legal arguments and issued an injunction preventing the implementation of the TikTok app ban,” the company, owned by China’s ByteDance, said in a statement.
TikTok had argued in a lawsuit that forcing it off US app stores would violate the First and Fifth Amendments of the US Constitution, which protect freedom of speech and due legal process.
The US government’s lawyers argued the app was a “mouthpiece” for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The ruling comes one week after another Chinese app, WeChat, was given a similar last-minute reprieve by a US court.
The US administration is seeking to force ByteDance to sell TikTok to a US firm, or to shut down the app’s US operations.
The government argues TikTok’s collection of data on US citizens poses a national security threat.
ByteDance denies handing such data to the Chinese government or that it poses a security risk.
The Chinese government is against a forced sale of TikTok, reportedly preferring that the app be shut down.
Negotiations are currently underway in the formation of a new company, TikTok Global, that would oversee the app’s US operations.
According to a preliminary deal, US firms Oracle and Walmart would have stakes in the company.