Court Says Trump's Plan To Block TikTok Can't Go Into Effect Yet

from the blocked dept

As we noted late on Friday, even with the weird grifty deal between TikTok and Oracle, Trump's ban on TikTok was scheduled to go into effect last night -- but a court was rushing to review a request by TikTok/Bytedance to put in place a temporary injunction to stop the rules from taking effect.

In an emergency hearing on Sunday morning the judge appeared to be inclined to block the injunction, noting:

This was a unilateral decision with very little opportunity for the plaintiffs to be heard and the result, whether we're talking about November or tonight, is a fairly significant deprivation.

If you don't recall, the block had two stages. The first was supposed to go into effect last night, blocking app stores from any new downloads (including updates) for the software. The second would go into effect on November 12th, and that would block other US services from helping TikTok (no optimization, no CDNs, no peering) as well as any use of TikTok's API.

In a ruling late on Sunday, the judge agreed to a preliminary injunction blocking the rules from going into effect last night, but not issuing one blocking the November rules. However, the reasoning is not known, because it was filed as a sealed memorandum, though both parties have been asked to approve unsealing it perhaps as soon as today.

It seems likely that the reasoning will be at least somewhat similar to the preliminary injunction that blocked the WeChat ban from going into effect: that you can't just magically wave your arms around and scream "national security" to ban entire communications platform from the US -- especially without addressing the 1st Amendment concerns.

The Commerce Department put out a brief statement saying that the Executive Order is "fully consistent with the law" (it isn't) and "promotes legitimate national security interests" (it doesn't). However, it also says it will comply with the injunction, but will "vigorously defend" the E.O. from legal challenges.

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.’ 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.

In other words, this isn't over yet by a long shot.

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Filed Under: ban, china, commerce department, executive order, injunction, preliminary injunction, wilbur ross
Companies: bytedance, tiktok

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  1. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 28 Sep 2020 @ 10:01am

    Refreshing moments of sanity

    Always nice to see a judge not fall for the 'national security' trick and refuse to just grant any order or give approval to any action so long as a government agency adds in those two magic words, though it would be even better if that became the norm rather than the exception.

    As for the order itself, yeah... as a blatant violation of power by Trump and even more obvious grift/PR stunt this absolutely deserved to be slapped down and blocked, so nice of the judge to give it the treatment it deserved.

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