Trump’s ban on TikTok blocked
FILE – The TikTok app logo will appear in Tokyo on September 28, 2020. A federal judge has blocked President Donald Trump’s attempts to ban TikTok, the latest legal defeat for the administration, as he tries to wrest the popular app from its Chinese owners. (AP Photo / Kiichiro Sato, File)
WASHINGTON – A federal judge has blocked President Donald Trump’s attempts to ban TikTok, the administration’s latest legal defeat as it tries to wrest the popular app from its Chinese owners.
The Trump administration tried to ban the short-form video app from smartphone app stores in the United States and exclude it from important technical services. TikTok sued, arguing that such acts violated freedom of speech and legal rights.
Justice Carl Nichols of the US District Court in Washington, DC, said in a ruling Monday that the Department of Commerce “likely exceeded the use of emergency powers of the president” and acted arbitrarily and capriciously in not considering obvious alternatives . “
Nichols is the second federal judge to completely block the Trump administration’s economic sanctions against the app as the trial progresses.
The Trump administration has claimed that TikTok poses a security threat as the Chinese government could spy on app users’ personal information. TikTok has denied that it was a security threat but continues to try to work with the administration to address its concerns.
Trump tentatively blessed a proposal in September from ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns TikTok, to resolve US national security concerns by investing in TikTok by US companies Oracle and Walmart. Oracle would manage US user data under the agreement. However, a federal agency has yet to review and finalize an agreement.
ByteDance has announced that its proposal will entrust American companies and investors with the moderation of data and content for US users. This is an important request from the US Foreign Investment Committee, a body under the direction of the Treasury Department.
China will eventually have to give its blessing for the deal. State media have spoken out against Trump’s order, and a State Department spokesman called it “bullying.”
TikTok has filed several lawsuits against the ban.
A government term for ByteDance to finalize the deal that was closed on Friday and it is not clear what the status of the agreement is.
The finance department, which chairs the overseas investment committee, said Friday that the agency is “working with ByteDance to complete the divestment and other steps necessary to resolve national security risks arising from the transaction.”
The Trump administration’s aggressive tactics are part of their recent attempt to counter China’s influence. Since taking office in 2017, Trump has waged a trade war with China, blocking mergers with Chinese companies, and suppressing the business of Chinese companies like Huawei, a manufacturer of phones and telecommunications equipment.
While President-elect Joe Biden said TikTok was a problem, it is not clear how his administration will continue the Trump administration’s ongoing attempts to get a ban or increase U.S. corporate stakes.
Information on this article was provided by staff at The Associated Press and Kurt Wagner, Shelly Banjo, and Jennifer Jacobs of Bloomberg News.