Judge Orders Federal Government to Defend TikTok Ban by Friday Afternoon

President Donald Trump gave TikTok six weeks to sell its US operations

ByteDance, the Chinese parent company of video-sharing app TikTok, has requested a temporary block on a ban of the app by the Trump administration. A U.S. judge has now ordered the federal government to defend the ban on Friday afternoon, or delay the blacklisting scheduled for Sunday.

Bloomberg reports that ByteDance, the Chinese parent company of the popular video-sharing app TikTok, is seeking an injunction to prevent the banning of the app in the U.S. which is set to take place on Sunday.

Breitbart News recently reported that despite the preliminary approval earlier this week of a partnership between the Chinese-owned app TikTok and U.S. firms Oracle and Walmart by President Donald Trump, Attorney General William Barr is not yet convinced that the partnership is sufficient to protect the data of U.S. citizens from the Chinese government.

A spokeswoman for Barr told Fox Business that Barr “is still in the fact-gathering stage and has not reached a final decision or made a final recommendation to the president.” Barr’s concern has reportedly delayed the administration’s approval despite President Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin reportedly being prepared to sign off on the deal. Mnuchin also chairs the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. which has to approve any foreign transaction.

Breitbart News reported that a disagreement between TikTok and its potential U.S. partner Oracle over the ownership structure for a U.S.-based version of the company has gone public. The argument raises questions about the stability of the deal that President Donald Trump approved in principle over the weekend, which appeared to save TikTok from being banned in the U.S.

Now,  U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols has given the U.S. government until 2:30 p.m. on Friday to agree to delay its deadline for the banning of the app or file court papers opposing ByteDance’s bid for the injunction. If the ban is not delayed, the judge plans to hold a hearing on the injunction request on Sunday morning.

The U.S. has argued against an expedited schedule in the case, stating that ByteDance had filed a separate suit over a month ago and was now late in requesting the injunction in this one. Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Schwei told the judge: “TikTok is allowed to continue operating with respect to existing users but cannot add users, and the reason for that is that there are significant national security risks.”

The ban on TikTok is effective at 11:59 p.m. on September 27 and would mean removing the app from app stores run by Apple and Google. John Hall, a lawyer for TikTok, alleged that the company sought relief as soon as it was allowed to under the law and that the U.S. would have argued that it was premature if filed earlier.

Hall argued that the removal of the app from app stores would increase risks to existing users on the TikTok platform as it would prevent them from getting regular security updates. “The urgency of this is created by the Sunday night ban,” Hall said. “That part of it makes absolutely no sense to us.”

The case is TikTok Inc. v. Trump, 20-cv-2658, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address lucasnolan@protonmail.com


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