Judge tells the U.S. that it can’t ban TikTok for the moment

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TikTok users in the U.S. breathed a sigh of relief last Friday after U.S. District Judge Wendy Beetlestone issued a a temporary injunction against President Trump’s TikTok ban. The judge imposed the ruling in favor of the plaintiffs who make a living in the U.S. thanks to TikTok. The app, one of the most popular in the states, allows subscribers to create short-form videos to share. These clips, lasting 15 seconds or 60 seconds in length, show teens and other subscribers dancing, singing, playing pranks and more.

Back in September, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that called for TikTok to be banned in the states unless its China-based parent ByteDance agreed to divest itself of TikTok’s U.S. operations. Trump alleged that the app, with 80 million monthly U.S. users, steals personal data from U.S. consumers and sends that data to Beijing. A deal between Oracle, Walmart and BytyeDance to create a new firm called TikTok Global awaits U.S. approval. 

Judge Beetlestone, who issued her temporary injunction in a federal courtroom in Pennsylvania, said in her ruling that the U.S. government’s “own descriptions of the national security threat posed by the TikTok app are phrased in the hypothetical.” As a result, the judge said that she could not find that “the risk presented by the government outweighs the public interest” in enjoining the ban. The judge said that banning TikTok in the states would cause “irreparable harm” to the TikTok users who sought the injunction. On Friday, she wrote, “Plaintiffs will lose the ability to engage with their millions of followers on TikTok, and the related brand sponsorships.”

A lawyer representing the three TikTik creators who brought the case that was ruled on Friday, called the ruling  a victory for free speech. Attorney Ambika Kumar Doran said in a statement, “We are pleased that the judge has halted this ban, which exceeds the president’s authority under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.”

Trump’s rules designated November 12th as the starting date when U.S.companies would no longer be able to provide TikTok with the services required to keep it running in the states. If ByteDance hasn’t worked out a deal to divest TikTok by that date, the latter was to be banned in the U.S. In a related case, back in September a different judge in Washington blocked a part of Trump’s ban that would have forced Apple and Google to remove TikTok from the App Store and Google Play Store respectively.

The plaintiffs in the Washington case also seek to block Trump’s November 12th order. Citing the ruling by the judge in Pennsylvania, TikTok’s legal team said that Trump’s ban exceeds the government’s authority.

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