Relief for TikTok; Temporarily avoids US ban

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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TikTok, the popular video sharing app based in China, won’t be thrown out of the US app stores – for the time being. 

A US federal court has said that a ban on TikTok will not go into effect as intended. The ruling blocks a ban on downloads of the app in the US mere hours before the policy was to take effect.

The decision to suspend the anticipated ban would allow Americans to continue using the app while the court investigates the legality of the ban and if, as the Trump administration argues, the app poses a danger to national security.

The US government had threatened to shut down the viral video sharing app after President Donald Trump signed two executive orders in early August over concerns that its parent company ByteDance, based in Beijing, might be forced to give user data over to the Chinese government. The allegations have long been denied by TikTok, which has 100 million users in the United States alone.

After it challenged the ban as unconstitutional and a breach of due process, the ruling is a victory for TikTok. The popular video app first filed a complaint against the administration on September 18, then filed a last-minute injunction on Thursday last week in an attempt to stop the ban from coming into effect on Sunday night.

The opinion of the judge was issued under seal, so his exact justification for the order is not public. But reports say that it was stated during the emergency hearing that the ban by the Trump administration could be deemed a “fairly significant violation” of the due process rights of the company.

Earlier this month, the US Commerce Department announced that TikTok downloads would be prohibited on September 20 and further restrictions would take effect on November 12.

Last week, after President Donald Trump gave his conditional blessing to a deal involving TikTok’s parent company – ByteDance with Oracle and Walmart, the government postponed its initial deadline. The deal, which has not yet been completed, was intended to resolve Trump’s national security concerns about the app and give American companies and investors at least partial ownership.

“We are pleased with the ruling. We will continue to defend our rights for the benefit of our community and employees,” TikTok said in a statement. It was added that the company will continue to talk to the government about the proposed deal with Oracle and Walmart.

TikTok has been caught in a political storm between the US and China and the latest episode is a part of its ongoing struggle. The China-based messaging app WeChat, owned by Tencent Technologies, was also banned by the Trump administration. Tencent has approached the US court to fight against the ban.