A federal judge granted TikTok an injunction Sunday, temporarily blocking the US government's attempt to block new downloads and software updates of the app in the US.
According to the injunction, unsealed Monday, the judge said the restrictions imposed on TikTok "likely exceed" the authority of IEEPA, the law giving the president broad authority over economic transactions Donald Trump used to issue the app ban.
TikTok also proved it would "suffer irreparable harm" if a ban occured, according to the judge. In court documents, TikTok said 80% to 90% of its US userbase would disappear if the ban lasted six months.
Another hearing on Trump's attempted ban is expected before November 12, when the rest of the ban's "phased approach" is scheduled to go into effect.
The US government's attempts to ban TikTok "likely exceed" the legal bounds of Donald Trump's executive authority, a federal judge said in his decision to grant an injunction this weekend, temporarily blocking the ban.
The judge's Sunday night ruling for the injunction came hours before the US government was set to enforce the first part of its two-pronged strategy to ban TikTok nationwide. Sunday's action, as recently laid out by the Commerce Department, would ban new app downloads and software updates for existing TikTok users.
TikTok first filed an injunction request Wednesday as part of the company's lawsuit against the US government challenging the legality of Trump's proposed ban.
The judge in the injunction, unsealed Monday, said the ban likely goes beyond the "lawful bounds" of the authority Donald Trump cited in his August executive orders to ban TikTok. Trump cited authority granted under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which allows the president to execute "broad authority" in regulating foreign economic transactions. However, IEEPA specifically excludes the ability to regulate "information or informational materials," as the judge pointed out in his injunction ruling.
The federal judge also said TikTok demonstrated it would "suffer irreparable harm" if a ban were to go into effect. In documents submitted to the court, TikTok interim head Vanessa Pappas said that the app would lose 80% to 90% of its users if a ban lasted for more than six months. Pappas also says TikTok's battle with the US government has caused more than 50 candidates to turn down roles at TikTok — a company whose US employee base stands at more than 1,500 and is still rapidly growing.
The second part of the administration's order — which issues a complete ban on TikTok by targeting internet hosting services and content delivery networks — is set to take effect November 12. Separate proceedings will be held prior to that deadline to decide on the implementation of this second part of the ban, the judge said Sunday.
It remains unclear what will happen to the US government's planned TikTok ban if a deal to settle the company's ownership in the US is finalized. The current proposal would break off TikTok's global business into a new US-based company, in which Oracle, Walmart and US investors would have substantial stakes. However, there's still disagreement over whether the deal would give majority ownership to US investors, or whether TikTok's China-based parent company ByteDance would maintain its majority ownership.
Last weekend, Trump said he had given his "blessing" to the Oracle-led deal. However, it is still awaiting approval from US and Chinese governments.
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