TikTok Gets Another Reprieve From Order That Would Ban It in U.S.

A month after a preliminary injunction in a separate lawsuit, a federal judge blocked Commerce Department restrictions from taking effect on Nov. 12.

The Trump administration claims that the Chinese government can collect personal data on Americans who use TikTok. The company denies the allegations.
The Trump administration claims that the Chinese government can collect personal data on Americans who use TikTok. The company denies the allegations.Credit...Mike Blake/Reuters

WASHINGTON — A second federal judge on Friday blocked a Commerce Department order that would have effectively barred the video-sharing app TikTok from operating in the United States starting on Nov. 12.

The judge, Wendy Beetlestone of U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, enjoined the Commerce Department from banning data hosting within the United States for TikTok, content delivery services and other technical transactions.

An earlier preliminary injunction, on Sept. 27 by Judge Carl Nichols of U.S. District Court in Washington, stopped the Commerce Department from ordering Apple’s and Google’s app stores to remove TikTok for download by new users. TikTok’s Chinese owner, ByteDance, had filed a lawsuit against the order, which was set to take effect later that day.

Judge Nichols is scheduled to hold a hearing on Wednesday on the other aspects of the Commerce Department order that Judge Beetlestone blocked on Friday. The order by Beetlestone, in a suit brought by three TikTok content creators, also blocks the app store download ban.

In her ruling, Judge Beetlestone said the order would “have the effect of shutting down, within the United States, a platform for expressive activity used by about 700 million individuals globally.”

“Over 100 million of these TikTok users are within the United States, and at least 50 million of these U.S. users use the app on a daily basis,” Judge Beetlestone added.

The Trump administration contends that TikTok poses national security concerns, claiming that personal data collected on Americans who use the app could be obtained by China’s government. The Commerce Department, which did not immediately comment on Friday, has acknowledged that the restrictions would “significantly reduce the functionality and usability of the app in the United States” and “may ultimately make the application less effective.”

TikTok denies the allegations. The company said in a statement on Friday that it was “deeply moved by the outpouring of support” from its users “who have worked to protect their rights to expression.”

A preliminary deal has been reached for Walmart and Oracle to take stakes in a new company, TikTok Global, that would oversee U.S. operations, and talks to complete the deal have been continuing. President Trump said last month that the deal had his “blessing.”