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TikTok ban halted by US federal judge

Written by Wency Chen Published on 

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The fate of TikTok and WeChat in the US is still full of uncertainties as the Trump administration is insisting on proceeding with the bans.

A federal judge of the US District Court in Washington D.C. on Sunday granted a preliminary injunction against the Trump administration’s ban that would have removed ByteDance’s TikTok from the Google and Apple app stores, keeping the Chinese-owned short video service available in the US, for now.

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

The ban “would be no different than the government locking the doors to a public forum, cutting off that town square,” TikTok lawyer John Hall said on Sunday. “This is just a blunt way to whack the company now while doing nothing to achieve the stated objective of the prohibitions.”

However, the app’s fate is still uncertain. The judge didn’t set restrictions on the more comprehensive ban on TikTok scheduled for November 12, which plans to block not only downloads but also the usage of the app nationwide.

Amid the ongoing tussle between the US and China, TikTok has been working with Walmart (NYSE:WMT) and Oracle (NYSE: ORCL) to broker a deal, in a bid to bypass a sanction. According to statements from the companies, Walmart and Oracle will have a stake of around 20% of a new entity called TikTok Global, while ByteDance will prepare an initial public offering in the US for the new company. But the ownership structure is still in flux and the deal needs agreements from both Beijing and Washington to move forward.

Last Monday, a federal judge in California temporarily blocked an executive order banning the use of WeChat in the US. On Thursday, the government asked to lift the injunction by October 1 and allow the ban to proceed, citing “urgent national security concerns.”

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