US judge suspends Trump ban on TikTok downloads

US judge suspends Trump ban on TikTok downloads”

A USA judge in Washington late on Sunday temporarily blocked a Trump administration order that was set to bar Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc's Google from offering Chinese-owned short video-sharing app TikTok for download at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday.

The Commerce Department gave the companies an additional week to finalize a deal before an order banning TikTok from U.S. app stores takes effect.

A more comprehensive ban remains scheduled for November, about a week after the presidential election. The judge did not agree to postpone the later ban.

Trump had cited national security concerns August 6 when he issued an executive order barring both the short form video app TikTok and the multipurpose WeChat appfrom app stores effective September 20. The White House says the video service is a security risk because the personal information of its millions of United States users could be handed over to Chinese authorities.

ByteDance said last week it had reached a preliminary deal for Walmart and Oracle to take stakes in a new company, TikTok Global, that would oversee USA operations.

ByteDance, the owners of the app that is estimated to have been downloaded two billion times since its creation four years ago, hopes to head off the ban by partnering with two usa companies, Oracle and Walmart.

The company also said the ban was unnecessary because negotiations were already underway to restructure the ownership of TikTok to address national security issues raised by the administration. A deal reached between ByteDance and the USA government last weekend was believed to have resolved the standoff between the two parties, but the deal has frayed over disputed details between buyer Oracle and ByteDance.

TikTok lawyer John Hall said a ban would be "punitive" and close off a public forum used by tens of millions of Americans.

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TikTok attorneys cited free speech and due process rights violations during a telephone court hearing on Sunday.

During a rare Sunday hearing, he questioned whether TikTok had been given enough opportunity to defend itself before Trump issued an executive order last month barring the app from online stores. "This is the most immediate national security threat".

Daniel Schwei, a lawyer for the Justice Department, countered that "the concern here is about data security risk and leaving data vulnerable to the Chinese government".

Government lawyers argued the president has a right to take national security actions, and said the ban was needed because of TikTok's links to the Chinese government through its parent firm ByteDance.

Mr Trump's restriction was initially set to start at midnight Sunday. However, ByteDance has insisted on maintaining an 80 percent stake in the restructured United States version of TikTok.

His language echoed the ruling of a judge in California who put a hold on Trump's WeChat ban last week, citing its effect on free speech and the irreparable harm that the ban would cause to the business.

The group argues TikTok's "For You" page is unique, as its algorithm enables "little-known creators" to be discovered by a wider audience.

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