TikTok users can breathe a massive sigh of relief. Less than 72 hours ago, President Donald Trump and his administration delivered the green light to have the China-based social media giant banned from the United States, however, last-minute legal action has kept the platform alive a bit longer.
According to reports, a federal court has granted a preliminary injunction forcing the Trump administration to have to wait out its planned ban of TikTok and Chinese app WeChat. The reason ultimately centers on concerns of First Amendment rights being violated.
In an order issued late Saturday, the U.S. District Court in San Francisco said the plaintiffs, a group of WeChat users, had shown there are “serious questions” related to their First Amendment claim. The Trump administration had planned effectively to ban WeChat and fellow Chinese-owned app TikTok in the U.S. late Sunday by preventing them from appearing in mobile-phone app stores. But neither ban is set to proceed immediately after the court order and a separate decision Saturday by the Commerce Department to delay the TikTok ban until Sept. 27 because the app’s owner is negotiating a possible deal to give Oracle oversight of U.S. user data. (The Washington Post)
According to initial reports, TikTok and WeChat had death sentences in the United States’ application stores secured for Sunday night.
The White House will take other action to curb WeChat’s use beginning Sunday and will give TikTok until Nov. 12 before further limitations kick in. Western companies and bankers are still wrangling with TikTok’s owner, the White House and Chinese authorities to try to arrange a sale of some of TikTok’s business. The short-form video app has seen explosive growth in the United States, where its users number in the tens of million. (Washington Post)
A White House representative also issued a statement and confirmed President Trump’s decision to ban TikTok.
“Today’s actions prove once again that President Trump will do everything in his power to guarantee our national security and protect Americans from the threats of the Chinese Communist Party,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement. “At the President’s direction, we have taken significant action to combat China’s malicious collection of American citizens’ personal data, while promoting our national values, democratic rules-based norms, and aggressive enforcement of U.S. laws and regulations.” (Statement)
Prior to the delay, TikTok’s accessibility would have ended moments before this coming Monday.
The Commerce Department issued regulations Friday to bar U.S. companies from providing downloads or updates for the TikTok and WeChat apps after 11:59 p.m. Sunday. Companies will also be banned from providing data hosting services for WeChat at that time. “Each collects vast swaths of data from users, including network activity, location data, and browsing and search histories,” the Commerce Department said. “Each is an active participant in China’s civil-military fusion and is subject to mandatory cooperation with the intelligence services” of the Chinese Communist Party. (Wall Street Journal)
In August 2020, President Trump issued executive orders in an attempt to ban both TikTok and social media platform WeChat from being operational in the United States. There was a 45-day deadline and the only solution was for both social media apps to be purchased by a non-Chinese company.
The orders, which use similar language, do not state that a certain amount of money from the sale needs to be sent to the US Treasury Department, which the President has been insisting on for several days. The order regarding TikTok prohibits after 45 days “any transaction by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, with ByteDance Ltd.,” the Chinese company that owns the social media platform. (CNN)