TikTok has gotten a reprieve from a case it filed against the US Commerce Department challenging its order to bar the Chinese video app from operating in the United States. The order which would have taken effect on Nov. 12 was blocked by a judge in Pennsylvania on Friday.
US District Court Judge Wendy Beetlestone enjoined the Commerce Department from barring data hosting within the United States for TikTok, content delivery services and other technical transactions according to Reuters.
Beetlestone said in her ruling that the order would “have the effect of shutting down, within the United States, a platform for expressive activity used by approximately 700 million individuals globally. Over 100 million of these TikTok users are within the United States, and at least 50 million of these US users use the app on a daily basis.”
This is a second victory for TikTok, after a District Judge Carl Nichols had on Sept. 27, in Washington, issued a preliminary injunction in a suit brought by TikTok’s parent, ByteDance, stopping the US Commerce Department from ordering Apple and Google to stop TikTok’s app from being downloaded from their respective stores.
Reuters reported that Nichols will hold a Nov. 4 hearing on the other aspects of the Commerce Department order that Beetlestone blocked on Friday.
The report said the order by Beetlestone, in a suit brought by three TikTok content creators, also blocks the app store download ban.
TikTok said in a statement that it was “deeply moved by the outpouring of support” from its users “who have worked to protect their rights to expression.”
TitkTok is expanding rapidly around the world.
The company had in August filed a suit against the United States government over what it described as an attempt to “suppress free speech”.
“We do not take suing the government lightly; however we feel we have no choice but to take action to protect our rights, and the rights of our community and employees. Our more than 1,500 employees across the US pour their hearts into building this platform every day,” the company said in its suit.
The ruling has turned the table against Washington who had had upper hand in the tussle before now.
The US president Donald Trump had in August signed an executive order which outlawed any transaction between ByteDance, TikTok and American people, was going to effectively ban TikTok, unless it’s sold to American company in 45 days.
The US’ attempt to ban TikTok stemmed from concern that the short video app may pose a national security risk, as it collects private data of millions of Americans daily. Washington said TikTok may be forced by the Chinese government to submit the data.
ByteDance had sought other means, including moving its headquarters from China, to get the US government to rescind its decision, but the attempts failed.
TikTok was forced to strike a deal with Oracle and Walmart to become a “trusted security provider”, a deal which was acceptable to both Washington and ByteDance as it cut the chase of selling TikTok.
Beijing reviewed its technology export laws to require a government’s license for a deal such as the sale of TikTok, in an attempt to frustrate the US’ push to sell the app, as Beijing is not willing to let the app’s algorithm into the hands of a foreign government.
Talks have been ongoing to finalize a preliminary deal for Walmart and Oracle to take stakes in a new company, TikTok Global, that would oversee US operations. A deal Trump approved saying it has his “blessing”, according to Reuters.
It is not clear how events will turn following this ruling.