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News > U.S.

US Federal Judge Blocks Trump Administration's Tiktok Ban

  • A TikTok app is seen on the tablet in Shanghai, China, August 3, 2020.

    A TikTok app is seen on the tablet in Shanghai, China, August 3, 2020. | Photo: EFE

Published 8 December 2020
Opinion

Judge Carl Nichols noted that the Executive branch "likely overstepped" its authority under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

A U.S. federal judge on Monday blocked President Donald Trump's ban on the popular video-sharing app TikTok.

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"For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiffs' Motion for a Preliminary Injunction is granted as to all the prohibitions listed in the Commerce Identification. An Order will accompany this Memorandum Opinion," Judge Carl Nichols of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia wrote.

Nichols noted that the Trump administration "likely overstepped" its authority under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and acted in an "arbitrary and capricious" manner by failing to consider obvious alternatives.

On Aug. 6, Trump issued an executive order banning U.S. transactions with TikTok and its Chinese parent company ByteDance in 45 days, citing national security concerns under the IEEPA.

Following that order, the U.S. Commerce Department in September published a list of five sets of prohibited transactions related to the TikTok, set to take effect from Sept. 27 and Nov. 12, separately.

TikTok filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration, challenging the legitimacy and constitutionality of the Aug. 6 executive order, and argued that there was no credible evidence to back up Trump's national security claims.

On Sept. 27, Nichols temporarily blocked a ban from the Commerce Department that would prevent new downloads of the TikTok and software updates for existing users.

Separately, Judge Wendy Beetlestone of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on Oct. 30 temporarily blocked Commerce Department restrictions that would ban U.S. companies from doing business with TikTok from Nov. 12.

The judge ruled that she found the U.S. government's "own descriptions of the national security threat posed by the TikTok app are phrased in the hypothetical" and therefore she could not find that "the risk presented by the government outweighs the public interest in enjoining" the ban.

On Nov. 12, the Commerce Department said that it will not enforce an order to ban TikTok "pending further legal developments," citing a recent ruling by Beetlestone.

Washington's proposed ban on the app has caused widespread concern in the United States. For some Americans, TikTok is a fun and engaging way to while away the time with their friends online, while for businesses it is a powerful economic engine.

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