There’s a new development in the seemingly neverending game of chicken between TikTok and U.S. President Donald Trump over a nationwide ban. On Friday, a U.S. federal judge in Pennsylvania blocked the Trump administration from outlawing U.S. transactions with Tiktok, which was set to take effect Nov. 12.
Unlike last month’s ruling, where another U.S. federal judge blocked a previous deadline for the ban, Friday’s case was brought by three TikTok creators rather than the company itself. They argued that a U.S. ban on the popular short-form video app would infringe upon their First Amendment rights to free expression. The White House is seeking to outlaw the app, which is owned by the China-based company Bytedance, out of concern that it’s secretly siphoning U.S. user data to Beijing.
U.S. District Judge Wendy Beetlestone ruled that Trump overstepped his authority by invoking the International Emergency Economic Powers Act to impose sanctions against TikTok. The judge went on to say that the administration failed to provide sufficient evidence of what, if any, risk TikTok poses to national security.
“The Government’s own descriptions of the national security threat posed by the TikTok app are phrased in the hypothetical,” Beetlestone wrote. She granted a preliminary injunction, finding that “the risk presented by the government outweighs the public interest in enjoining” the ban.
The TikTok creators — Douglas Marland, Cosette Rinab, and Alec Chambers — filed suit against the Trump administration on Sept 18., arguing that the Nov. 12 ban would cut them off from earning income through the app. Per Variety, Rinab said that her sponsored videos rake in between $US5,000 ($7,121) and $US10,000 ($14,241) per video, and Chambers said he took in $US12,000 ($17,089) for promoting Extra gum in one of his videos.
TikTok itself has also taken the Trump administration to court over the ban. On Sept. 27, a federal judge blocked a nationwide ban scheduled to go into effect just a few hours later, ruling that Trump“likely exceeded the lawful bounds” of his authority by invoking emergency economic powers. The Department of Justice filed to appeal that decision earlier this month.
While this war’s still far from over, TikTok said it was please to win another battle in its fight against Trump’s ban.
“We are deeply moved by the outpouring of support from our creators, who have worked to protect their rights to expression, their careers and to help small businesses, particularly during the pandemic,” TikTok’s interim global head Vanessa Pappas said in a press statement about Friday’s ruling. “We stand behind our community as they share their voices, and we are committed to continuing to provide a home for them to do so.”