Apple and Google were supposed to remove TikTok from their respective app stores last night. But then a federal judge intervened.
Judge Carl Nichols of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia temporarily blocked the Trump administration’s order that banned the availability of the micro video blogging app in the U.S.
However, the judge didn’t block the overarching ban that’s slated for Nov. 12. That could make TikTok unusable by Thanksgiving.
“We’re pleased that the court agreed with our legal arguments and issued an injunction preventing the implementation of the TikTok app ban,” said TikTok in a statement. “We will continue defending our rights for the benefit of our community and employees.”
The company also said that it will continue its ongoing negotiations with Oracle and Walmart. President Trump gave his blessing to an outline of a deal with those two companies that would enable TikTok to continue operations in the U.S.
The U.S. Reacts
The U.S. Commerce Department said it will continue to defend the executive order.
“The Government will comply with the injunction and has taken immediate steps to do so, but intends to vigorously defend the E.O. and the Secretary’s implementation efforts from legal challenges,” the department said.
Previously, the Department of Commerce said that Apple and Google would have to remove TikTok from app stores by Sep. 20. However, that deadline was pushed back a week when the president signaled approval for the deal with Oracle and Walmart.
Now it’s delayed again because of the judge’s order.
The administration claims that TikTok is a national security threat because U.S. user data could be sent back to China and exploited. TikTok denies that claim.
During the Sunday morning hearing, U.S. attorneys argued that ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, has significant ties to the Chinese Communist Party. That connection, they argued, “could potentially be leveraged to further their agenda and exact pressure on ByteDance.”
The Art of the Deal
The details of the agreement between Oracle, Walmart, and TikTok are still ongoing. However, we know a little bit about the current state of the negotiations.
Oracle and Walmart will take a 20% interest in a new U.S.-based company called TikTok Global.
ByteDance says it will retain an 80% ownership stake in the company. But Oracle disputes that claim and says that TikTok will have “no ownership” of TikTok Global.
Where to From Here?
It doesn’t appear that the administration has much of a leg to stand on. So it looks like TikTok, in one form or another, is here to stay for the foreseeable future.
Also: if this minimal ban exceeds the administration’s authority, how will the more comprehensive ban set to go into effect on Nov. 12 stand?
Answer: it probably won’t. A judge will block it. Maybe even the same judge.
Also: the fact that TikTok won in court gives the company an edge in negotiations with Oracle and Walmart. That could delay the transfer.
So, for now, assume that nothing will change.