With less than four hours to spare, a federal judge on Sunday blocked the Trump administration’s attempt to ban new TikTok downloads in the US.
In an emergency hearing over the weekend, US District Judge Carl Nichols partially granted a preliminary injunction, declining “at this time” to block restrictions set to take effect in mid-November.
TikTok owner ByteDance has been looking to sell the popular video-sharing app since President Trump threatened a nationwide embargo, citing concerns about a Chinese-based company having access to US user data. In an effort to save the popular platform from sudden death, Oracle recently stepped in to acquire a 12.5 percent stake in TikTok Global, with plans to run the social network on Oracle Cloud. TikTok is also working on a commercial partnership with Walmart, which tentatively agreed to purchase 7.5 percent of TikTok Global, with Walmart CEO Doug McMillon serving as one of its five board members.
A full US ban, according to TikTok attorney John Hall, would have been an “extraordinary action at the very time when the need for free open and accessible communication in America is at its zenith,” he said during Sunday’s hearing, as reported by CNN.
The Trump White House continues to believe TikTok’s ownership by a Chinese firm reflects an “immediate danger” to national security, the news site said. Government lawyers claim user data could fall into the hands of the Communist Party of China—a claim TikTok denies, explaining that it keeps US intelligence stateside, with a backup in Singapore.
“We will continue defending our rights for the benefit of our community and employees,” TikTok said in a statement published by CNN, adding that it remains in conversation with officials about Trump’s order—which the Commerce Department intends to “vigorously defend.”