Court Hands Lifeline to TikTok

(Image credit: TikTok)

A U.S. District court has delayed the Trump Administration's Sept. 27 deadline for a sale or, alternately, a ban of the wildly popular social media video app TikTok from U.S. app stores.

The Administration, as well as members of Congress from both parties, are concerned about TikTok's ties, which the Chinese company denies, to the Chinese Government.

Originally, the deadline was Sept. 20, but the Administration moved it to Sept. 27 after Walmart and Oracle agreed to a deal to purchase TikTok, though that deal has run into some issues about whether TikTok's Chinese parent would still have any piece of the business.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said Sunday (Sept. 27) that is was granting part of TikTok's request for an injunction. The court's order was sealed, so it is not clear exactly why the court blocked the Administration, though one of the tests for granting an injunction is the plaintiff's likelihood of winning the underlying case.

The court asked the parties to review the sealed order and let it know by 11 a.m. on Monday (Sept. 28) whether it can be unsealed.

The Commerce Department said it would defend the President's executive order. 

"On September 27, 2020, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia granted a nationwide preliminary injunction against the implementation of Executive Order (E.O.) 13942, limited to the Secretary of Commerce’s Identification of Prohibited Transactions with TikTok/ByteDance involving ‘any provision of services… to distribute or maintain the TikTok mobile application, constituent code, or application updates through an online mobile application store," said Commerce in a statement late Sunday. "The E.O. is fully consistent with the law and promotes legitimate national security interests.  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."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.