Trump TikTok ban blocked by courts in temporary reprieve

By Robert Scammell

A US judge has temporarily blocked a Trump executive order that would have banned video-sharing app TikTok from Google and Apple app stores.

The ban had been due to take effect on Sunday at one minute to midnight. While the app would have remained on the phones of those who had already downloaded it, the ban would have prevented new American users from adding it to their phones and receiving updates.

In a last-minute move, US district judge Carl Nichols granted a preliminary injunction requested by TikTok’s owner, ByteDance, which temporarily allows the app to remain available in the US.

Nichols did not disclose the reason why he blocked the TikTok ban as the opinion was sealed.

In a statement, TikTok said: “We’re pleased that the court agreed with our legal arguments and issued an injunction preventing the implementation of the TikTok app ban.”

Tiktok ban sees temporary reprieve despite US security concerns

The Trump administration has accused TikTok, which is used by more than 100 million Americans a month, of being a national security threat due to its ties to Chinese ownership. TikTok has denied all allegations and said it would not hand over any data to the Chinese authorities, nor has it ever done so.

In a statement, the Commerce Department said it would “comply with the injunction and has taken immediate steps to do so”.

A second TikTok ban is due to come into force on 12 November, which would ban any US company from doing business with TikTok. Nichols declined to take any action on those measures “at this time”.

The move follows a similar court decision last weekend against Chinese-owned messaging app WeChat. A judge blocked the ban after WeChat users argued in a lawsuit that banning the app threatened free speech enshrined in the first amendment.

ByteDance has also agreed a preliminary deal for database company Oracle and retailer Walmart to take stakes in a new company, TikTok Global, after Trump forced the company to divest. The arrangement will see TikTok Global oversee US operations, with Oracle expected to store and manage American user data.

Read more: Tencent revenues up 29% as execs insist Trump’s WeChat ban poses minimal risk