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Second judge blocks US from imposing restrictions on TikTok

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US TikTok

WASHINGTON: Late on Monday, a second US judge issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting the US Department of Commerce from enforcing restrictions on the Chinese-owned TikTok short video sharing app that would have essentially blocked its use in the US.

More than a month after US judge Wendy Beetlestone in Pennsylvania blocked the same restrictions that were scheduled to take effect on Nov 12, US District Judge Carl Nichols in Washington issued an injunction.

On Sept 27, Nichols separately blocked the Commerce Department from banning Apple Inc and the Google app stores of Alphabet Inc from offering new users the app for downloads.

TikTok and Commerce did not comment immediately.

Nichols, who was appointed last year by President Donald Trump to the bench. He said that the Commerce Department “probably exceeded” its legal authority in issuing the successful TikTok ban “and acted in an arbitrary and capricious way by failing to consider obvious alternatives.”

The order from Nichols allows the agency to ban data hosting for TikTok, content distribution services and other technological transactions within the US.

On Friday, the Trump administration refused to grant a new extension of Trump’s August order to TikTok owner ByteDance that mandated it to divest TikTok’s US properties. However, talks will continue, Reuters said.

Late on Friday, the Treasury Department said the government “is engaging with ByteDance to complete the divestment and other steps needed to resolve the risks to national security.”

As the personal data of US users may be accessed by China’s government, the Trump administration contends that TikTok raises national security concerns. However, the accusation is refuted by TikTok, which has over 100 million US users.

ByteDance has been in talks for months under pressure from the US government to finalise an agreement with Walmart Inc and Oracle Corp to move the US properties of TikTok into a new company.

On December 14, a US appeals court will hear arguments about Nichols’ app store ban injunction.

 

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Second judge blocks US from imposing restrictions on TikTok

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