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30th January 2023

TikTok Ban: Relieve As U.S Department Moves To Obey Court Order

Russia's Fake News Law: TikTok Suspends New Content
Russia's Fake News Law: TikTok Suspends New Content

The TikTok ban and shutting down of operations in the United States of America, which was supposed to go into effect on Thursday will no longer take effect. This is so because the U.S Department for commerce announced on Thursday that it would abide by a court ruling blocking the shutdown order given by President Donald Trump-led administration.

Trump had placed enforcement of an executive order in August on the operations of TikTok that would mandate the sale by Thursday, 12th November 2020, after the President had alleged that the short-form video app represents a national security threat from the Chinese government. But the company had rushed to file an appeal asking a court to push off a looming deadline that would require the short-form video app to be spun off from its Chinese parent company ByteDance.

In the petition filed on Tuesday, ByteDance and TikTok asked the court to “hold unlawful, vacate, enjoin and set aside the Divestment Order and the CFIUS Action, and grant any further relief that may be appropriate.”
The companies said they intend to file a motion to stay enforcement of Trump’s divestment order “only if discussions reach an impasse and the government indicates an intent to take action to enforce the Order.”

The TikTok ban had been scheduled to go into effect on Thursday. But a U.S. district judge in Philadelphia issued an injunction on Oct. 30, granting a request from three TikTok creators who argued that the shutdown would infringe on their First Amendment rights.

“The Department is complying with the terms of this Order,” the department said in a notice in the Federal Register, adding that the ban would not go into effect “pending further legal development “.

The Department of Justice filed a separate notice in the case on Thursday indicating that it would appeal the judge’s order to the Third Circuit. If the appeals court vacates the injunction, the TikTok ban could go into effect.

TikTok has been seeking its own injunction that would block the shutdown in a separate case in Washington, D.C.

The Commerce Department issued an order on Sept. 18 that would block downloads of the TikTok app beginning Sept. 20, and order a full shutdown of the app on Nov. 12. The department cited concerns that TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, would allow China’s government to access data on U.S. users. TikTok, meanwhile, has argued that user data is secure and the Trump administration is pursuing a political agenda against the company.

TikTok has argued that President Trump relied on “anti-Chinese rhetoric” during his campaign, and that the idea of banning the app came about after TikTok users bragged of coordinating to book tickets to a Trump rally in Tulsa, making it appear that attendance would be much greater than it actually turned out to be. TikTok contends that the resulting embarrassment prompted the administration to explore the ban.

The download ban was postponed by a week in September to allow time for ByteDance to transfer the company to a new U.S. entity with ownership stakes held by Oracle and Walmart. That deal has stalled, however, and in the meantime U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols blocked the download ban from taking effect.

The full shutdown was still set to take effect on Thursday until Judge Wendy Beetlestone issued her order on Oct. 30.
TikTok is also in court seeking to block a divestment order from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

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