US Judge Blocks Trump’s TikTok Ban

Written by

A US federal judge has blocked a government-mandated ban on TikTok just hours before it was due to take effect, granting a temporary reprieve for the popular Chinese-owned social app.

Judge Carl Nichols issued the ruling on Sunday, in another blow to the Trump administration’s botched attempts to declare the app a national security risk.

He granted a preliminary injunction sought by TikTok and parent ByteDance, which means the app will not be banned from Google Play and the App Store as the Commerce Department had ordered.

However, sitting in the District Court for the District of Colombia, Nichols declined to block additional government restrictions set to take effect on November 12 2020. These will make it illegal for ISPs to handle TikTok traffic, in effect rendering the app unable to function in the US.

There are no further details on the ruling at this time. However, TikTok’s lawyers had reportedly argued that a ban would be “arbitrary and capricious,” impact user security by blocking app updates, and that it is unnecessary in the context of the deal being hammered out with Oracle to assuage national security concerns.

A Presidential Executive Order issued back in August claimed that TikTok “automatically captures vast swaths of information from its users” which “threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information — potentially allowing China to track the locations of Federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage.”

It added that the app also “reportedly” censors content on behalf of the Communist Party and that it “may” also be used for disinformation campaigns on behalf of China’s leaders.

The US government issued a statement on the Sunday verdict claiming it will comply with the injunction but that it intends to “vigorously defend” the Executive Order.

The ruling came just days after another District Court blocked Trump’s attempts to ban Chinese app WeChat on similar national security grounds.

What’s hot on Infosecurity Magazine?