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Federal judge blocks TikTok download ban hour before deadline

The judge's ruling gives more time to a pending deal to allow U.S. companies to effectively own TikTok's operations in the U.S.

Published: September 28, 2020 7:20am

Updated: September 28, 2020 10:09am

A federal judge on Sunday night blocked President Trump's attempt to end the downloading in the U.S. of the China-based TikTok app, just four hours before the ban was set to go into effect.

The ruling, issued by Judge Carl Nichols, in Washington, D.C., gives the Beijing-based ByteDance, TikTok's parent company, an extension on gaining approval from U.S. and Chinese government officials on the pending sale of the popular, vide-sharing app to Oracle and Walmart.

Nichols asked the related legal teams to present a timeline for more detailed arguments. Nichols was appointed by the president last year.

Trump and others have raised concerns about whether the ruling Chinese Communist Party is using the app to collect personal data from U.S. subscribers, posing a potential national security threat. 

If a deal is not completed by Nov. 12, the Commerce Department plans to implement a full ban on the app that would make it completely unusable in the United States.

Earlier this month, Trump signaled that he might approve a deal, the early details of which included Oracle and Walmart receiving a combined 20% share in TikTok Global – a new U.S.-based leg of the company. 

Attorneys for TikTok argued in court on Sunday that the proposed actions of the U.S. government were petty and harmful for business. "This is just punitive. This is just a blunt way to whack the company now while doing nothing to achieve the stated objective of the prohibitions," said TikTok lawyer John Hall of the government's proposed download ban.

A lawyer for the DOJ argued that the ban would "address the most important immediate threat to national security, which is new users continuing to sign up and making their data vulnerable to the Chinese government."

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