US federal judge blocks TikTok ban

The injunction follows a similar one being issued against a WeChat ban last week.

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Image: TikTok

A federal judge has ordered an injunction against the Trump administration's ban of TikTok, which was set to come into effect on Sunday. 

The ruling was in relation to a lawsuit filed by TikTok that argued the ban undermined the free speech rights of US citizens.

"To ensure that the rule of law is not discarded, and that our company and users are treated fairly, we have no choice but to challenge the executive order through the judicial system," TikTok said in its originating motion.

The ban had sought to block TikTok and WeChat as well as remove them from the Apple and Google app stores. Additionally, updates to the existing apps would have also been banned. 

The ban would not have prevented existing users from using the apps, however, as long as the apps were already installed prior to the app store removals.

Following the judge's order, the US Commerce Department, which is responsible for enforcing the ban, issued a statement that said it would "vigorously defend" the ban from legal challenges.

Last week, the US courts issued a similar nationwide injunction against President Donald Trump's executive order to prevent a WeChat ban from coming into effect. 

For that case, magistrate judge Laurel Beeler granted the injunction as the plaintiffs showed serious questions about whether the ban impinged on the US first amendment. She also acknowledged the ban would provide hardship for the plaintiffs as it would shut down the primary means of communication for the Chinese community.

The TikTok ban was initially scheduled for September 20, but the US Commerce Department delayed it by a week to September 27 due to "recent positive developments" in talks regarding the sale of the US operations of TikTok. 

Earlier this month, Oracle and Walmart announced they would acquire 20% of a newly formed TikTok Global and issue an IPO within 12 months, effectively saving TikTok's US footprint from being banned.        

The US Commerce Department also has a second TikTok ban on the cards. This second ban has a deadline of November 12, and demands Bytedance to sell TikTok due to national security concerns. This second ban was not part of the injunction that was ordered on Sunday evening.

Both of these bans are the official instruments for enforcing the two executive orders that were signed by President Donald Trump in early August, which had labelled the pair of Chinese apps as national security threats. 

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