Judge blocks Trump TikTok ban

A US judge has temporarily blocked a Trump administration order set to bar Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google from offering Chinese-owned short video-sharing app TikTok for download.

US District Judge Carl Nichols, a nominee of President Donald Trump who joined the court last year, said in a brief order on Sunday he was issuing a preliminary injunction preventing the TikTok app store ban taking effect.

Nichols declined “at this time” to block other Commerce Department restrictions set to take effect on November 12 that TikTok has warned would have the impact of making the app unusable in the United States.

Nichols’ detailed written opinion is expected to be released as soon as Monday.

John E. Hall, a lawyer for TikTok, had argued during a 90-minute Sunday morning hearing the ban was “unprecedented” and “irrational”.

“How does it make sense to impose this app store ban tonight when there are negotiations under way that might make it unnecessary?” Hall asked during the Washington hearing.

“This is just punitive. This is just a blunt way to whack the company. … There is simply no urgency here.”

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

ByteDance said on September 20 it made a preliminary deal for Walmart Inc and Oracle Corp to take stakes in a new company, TikTok Global, that would oversee US 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 US government’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

TikTok argues the restrictions, amid rising US-China tensions under the Trump administration, “were not motivated by a genuine national security concern but by political considerations relating to the upcoming general election”.

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