US judge unsure if he can issue new TikTok injunction

In this photo illustration, the social media application logo, TikTok is displayed on the screen of an iPhone on an American flag background on August 3, 2020 in Arlington, Virginia. – President Donald Trump said Monday that Chinese-owned hugely popular video-sharing app TikTok will be “out of business” in the United States if not sold to a US firm by September 15, 2020.”I set a date of around September 15, at which point it’s going to be out of business in the United States,” he told reporters. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP)

A United States judge said on Wednesday he was uncertain if he had a legal basis to bar the US Department of Commerce from imposing restrictions on video-sharing app TikTok after a Pennsylvania judge had already blocked the government’s plan on Friday.

Beijing-based ByteDance Ltd, the owner of TikTok, argued that the previous ruling could still be overturned on appeal.

US District Judge Carl Nichols for the District of Columbia said he was unsure if TikTok could demonstrate “irreparable harm” to win a new injunction against the government’s order that Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google app stores remove TikTok for download by new users.

On Friday, US District Court Judge Wendy Beetlestone stopped the Commerce Department from barring TikTok’s data hosting within the United States and other technical transactions that she said would effectively ban the use of the app in the country.

The restrictions were set to take effect on November 12. A Justice Department lawyer told Nichols the government had not decided whether to appeal Beetlestone’s order.

Beetlestone, whose ruling came in a lawsuit filed by three TikTok users, noted the app has more than 100 million US users.

On September 27, Nichols issued a preliminary injunction against the government’s order. Beetlestone’s order also blocks the app store download ban.

Talks have been continuing to finalise a preliminary deal for Walmart Inc and Oracle Corp to take stakes in a new company to oversee US operations. US President Donald Trump has said the deal had his “blessing”.

The Trump administration has contended TikTok poses national security concerns as American’s personal data who use the app could be obtained by China’s government. TikTok has denied the allegations.

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