TikTok expressed gratitude for the 11th-hour injunction granted by a federal judge Sunday that allows it to keep doing business in the U.S.
Following intense pleas from TikTok’s lawyers via conference call, Judge Carl Nichols of the U.S. District Court for Washington, D.C., temporarily blocked President Donald Trump’s ban that would have forced TikTok’s removal from Apple and Google app stores starting Monday.
The ban would have deprived TikTok of new American users and prevented existing users from receiving app updates, eventually rendering the popular short video app useless.
Nichols’ ruling means TikTok can still operate without interruption until a full court hearing. However, Nichols denied TikTok’s request to extend a Nov. 12 deadline for TikTok to relinquish its U.S. operations to an American company, or end its business in the U.S.
TikTok said it is pleased the court sided with its legal arguments, which centered on the claim the Trump administration has no credible evidence TikTok is an immiment threat to U.S. national security.
“We will continue defending our rights for the benefit of our community and employees,” TikTok said in a statement. “At the same time, we will also maintain our ongoing dialogue with the government to turn our proposal, which the President gave his preliminary approval to last weekend, into an agreement.”
TikTok’s legal team assailed Trump for being driven by “political-related animus” meant to gain “political campaign fodder.”
“It would be no different than the government locking the doors to a public forum, roping off that town square,” said TikTok lawyer John Hall. He said TikTok, with its 100 million American users, is a “modern day version of the town square” and shutting it down is akin to silencing speech.
“The government would be taking this extraordinary action at the very time that the need for free, open and accessible communication in America is at its zenith — 37 days before a national election,” said Hall.
On the other hand, government prosecutors contend free speech concerns are “completely irrelevant” to Trump’s national security prerogatives.
“The concern here is about data security risk and leaving data vulnerable to access by the Chinese government,” said U.S. Department of Justice lawyer Daniel Schwei. “This is the most immediate national security threat. It is a threat today.”
The Department of Commerce previously said TikTok would have to be removed from U.S. app stores on Sept. 20. This order was delayed to Sunday as talks of a potential partnership between TikTok owner ByteDance and Oracle continued.
Talks, however, hit a snag over ByteDance having any ownership in the proposed new company TikTok Global, which would oversee the app’s operations in the U.S. and three other countries.