A US judge on Sunday ordered the Trump administration to delay its ban of the Chinese video-sharing app TikTok, temporarily suspending a restriction set to go into effect on Sunday night.
On August 6, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order threatening to ban TikTok and WeChat, a Chinese-owned messaging app, saying the companies could be required to turn over users' personal data to Beijing and pose a national security risk.
The ruling dealt a second blow to Trump within a week in his efforts to curb the Chinese owned popular apps. A federal judge in California on September 19 ruled in favour of a group WeChat users in the US, saying US government failed to provide enough evidence of a security threat.
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On Sunday, Federal District Judge Carl Nichols said that his opinion on the matter, which is still sealed, would need to be reviewed by the plaintiffs and defendants on Monday to decide whether the full decision can be made public, and that the parties would need to confer by Wednesday on next steps in the dispute.
TikTok's parent company, ByteDance, sued Trump, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and the Commerce Department on September 18, saying the administration had acted without due process and in violation of the First Amendment. The app owners are asking Federal District Judge Carl Nichols to issue a preliminary injunction to halt the ban.
The Trump administration on Friday filed an objection to TikTok's request to stop the ban.
Government lawyers filed their response under seal on Friday afternoon, saying it included "confidential business information".
The legal back and forth took place as ByteDance seeks government approval for its proposed deal with Oracle Corp and Walmart for its US operations.
Last week, the Commerce Department delayed the TikTok ban by a week until Sunday after Trump reacted positively toward the deal with Oracle.
Late on Thursday, Trump also asked the judge to stay the injunction for WeChat.
Government lawyers said: "The court's preliminary injunction permits the continued, unfettered use of WeChat, a mobile application that the Executive Branch has determined constitutes a threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States."
They added that it would allow Beijing to "surveil the American people and collect and use vast swathes of personal and proprietary information from American users to advance its own interests".
In a separate filing on Friday, US lawyers said they would submit classified information supporting their request, including an assessment by the director of national intelligence.
"We're pleased that the court agreed with our legal arguments and issued an injunction preventing the implementation of the TikTok app ban," a TikTok spokeswoman said in a statement issued Monday morning Beijing time.
"We will continue defending our rights for the benefit of our community and employees. At the same time, we will also maintain our ongoing dialogue with the government to turn our proposal, which the President gave his preliminary approval to last weekend, into an agreement."
Additional reporting by Coco Feng
More from South China Morning Post:
- Trump administration files legal objection to TikTok's efforts to halt US ban
- Donald Trump asks US court to let ban on Chinese app WeChat to proceed
- Judge orders US to delay TikTok ban or file arguments supporting it by Friday
- TikTok files suit in US court to halt download ban in opposition to Donald Trump's demands, as does WeChat
- China-US relations: Beijing condemns Trump ban as WeChat's US users brace for a life of 'inconvenience'