The ban imposed by US President Donald Trump on TikTok has no effect for the time being. A US federal judge for the capital district of Columbia issued an injunction on Sunday evening. For a few hours, from midnight local time, US-based app stores should have blocked downloads and updates from TikTok. The judge has not yet ruled on the ban on hosting, data traffic and use, which is due to come into force on November 12th.
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The reasons for the decision are initially classified. On Monday morning, TikTok and the US government will have to speak to the federal district court as to whether or not the reasoning should be published. TikTok is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance. At the beginning of August, Trump had banned US Americans from doing business with TikTok with reference to national security (Executive Order 13492).
The US president fears that TikTok could be forced under Chinese law to transfer data from US citizens to the Chinese government due to its Chinese ownership. As a “solution”, Trump is seeking to sell TikTok to US companies. TikTok, on the other hand, believes that it is not affected by Chinese law and that it can store the data securely.
Alleged solution is in the air
Originally, the ban should have come into effect on September 20th. But the day before, Trump had approved a deal between TikTok on the one hand and Oracle and Walmart on the other hand, which should enable TikTok to continue operating. Oracle, Walmart and existing US ByteDance shareholders should take over TikTok. The company headquarters were to move from California, a US state ruled by a Democrat, to Texas, where a Republican is the governor.
Trump also announced at the time that TikTok would be paying $ 5 billion into an education fund designed to teach young Americans patriotism. Alone, ByteDance and TikTok didn’t know about it. In addition, ByteDance only wanted to sell 20 percent of TikToks to Oracle and Walmart.
Apart from the fact that the authorities of the People’s Republic of China would also have to give their consent, there are still important questions unanswered. They could not be clarified in the past week. This threatened another TikTok ban on Sunday. But like a week ago in the similar case of the WeChat ban, a federal judge intervened.
The ban stands on shaky foundations
From a legal point of view, the app operators concerned have good arguments: Trump did not give them an opportunity to be heard before or after the ban was issued. But this is required by law. The ban also includes personal communication and the free dissemination of information – but this is exactly what the law is not allowed to prohibit. There are also constitutional objections to the ban.
From November 12th it will be illegal to use TikTok, to host it, to support it with content delivery networks or to enable data transfer through transit or peering agreements. TikTok also wanted to protect itself from this by means of an injunction. The judge is not devoting himself to this area for the time being due to the lack of urgency, which is why he only stopped the download and update ban on Sunday. The lawyers TikToks and the US government should propose a roadmap for the further course of the process by Wednesday.