Judge Carl Nichols (D.D.C) has granted TikTok’s request for a preliminary injunction, delaying a planned ban on new downloads of the app, that was supposed to take place starting Sunday at 11.59 ET.
The US Justice Department had until Friday to either delay the ban or file legal papers defending it. The DOJ filed a sealed opposition to TikTok’s preliminary injunction to block the ban of the video app, but the Judge Carl Nichols has ruled in TikTok’s favor.
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“We’re pleased that the court agreed with our legal arguments and issued an injunction preventing the implementation of the TikTok app ban,” TikTok said, in a statement sent to Bioreports. “We will continue defending our rights for the benefit of our community and employees. At the same time, we will also maintain our ongoing dialogue with the government to turn our proposal, which the President gave his preliminary approval to last weekend, into an agreement.”
In August President Trump signed an executive order banning “any transaction by any person” with Bytedance, citing national security concerns. A separate executive order, issued Aug. 14, ordered ByteDance to sell its US operations by Nov. 12, leading to a potential deal with Oracle, which is currently up in the air.
The order to ban new downloads of TikTok had initially been issued on September 18 by the Commerce Department, and was scheduled to take place September 20. That ban was delayed until September 27 when a potential deal between Oracle and TikTok was initially announced. This successful request for a preliminary injunction delays any potential bans further.
Lawyers for TikTok had argued that removing the app in the lead-up to an election, in the midst of a pandemic, would infringe on the rights of US citizens to broadcast their views.
It would be “no different from the government locking the doors to a public forum,” explained John Hall, a lawyer for TikTok. He called the decision to ban new downloads “arbitrary and capricious.”
A statement from the US Department of Commerce stated the Government would “comply with the injunction and has taken immediate steps to do so, but intends to vigorously defend the E.O. and the Secretary’s implementation efforts from legal challenges.”