A U.S federal judge has said that a ban on TikTok – scheduled for Monday, September 28 – will not go ahead as planned. The delay will allow users to access the app on various app stores while the court explores the legality of banning a consumer application on security grounds.
TikTok, by Chinese software house ByteDance, has filed two injunctions against the ban since September 18. The U.S. government rejected the injunction on Friday and scheduled a public hearing in DC District Court by Judge Carl J. Nichols today. Today’s unexpected ruling has stopped the ban outright.
In an opposition document filed on Friday, September 25, U.S. government noted that the ban was not a regulation of personal communications and does not violate the First Amendment.
TikTok Comms celebrated the news online.
— TikTok_Comms (@tiktok_comms) September 28, 2020
“The regulation of a single service provider is not akin to regulating or prohibiting transmission of information or informational materials themselves, nor to an indirect restriction of them through limitations imposed on an entire ‘medium of transmission,’” they wrote.
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.
The case against TikTok is based on the belief that it is a “mouthpiece for the Chinese Communist Party,” according to a court filing. Because TikTok’s parent company is beholden to Chinese Intelligence requirements, there is concern that the country could unduly influence U.S. citizens or steal personal data.
“My clients are facing irreparable harm, not just from the ban … but from the rest of these prohibitions that’ll go into effect Nov. 12,” said TikTok’s counsel, John Hall of Covington & Burling LLP last Thursday. “It’s apparent to the world now that if nothing is done, this app is going to be shut down completely.”
A deal, supported by U.S. President Donald Trump, would have sold a portion of the company to Oracle and Wal-Mart. Today’s move, at least, gives TikTok’s 100 million U.S. users continued access to the app’s countless whimsical – and, presumably, potentially identity-thieving – videos for yet another day.