Trump administration loses more legal ground in targeting TikTok

By GT staff reporters Source: Global Times Published: 2020/12/8 17:58:43

TikTok Photo:VCG

Following earlier injunctions issued by US federal judges involving President Trump's order outlawing the operation of Chinese-owned video-sharing app TikTok in the US, the Trump administration met another blockage issued by another US court.

US District Judge Carl Nichols in Washington granted on Monday a preliminary injunction blocking the US Commerce Department from imposing restrictions on TikTok, which would have effectively barred its use in the US market. 

TikTok sued the US government in federal court in August challenging the presidential executive order, saying that it violated the due process protections of the Fifth Amendment.

Nichols said that "the government likely exceeded IEEPA's express limitations as part of an agency action that was arbitrary and capricious." The government "cannot suffer harm from an injunction that merely ends an unlawful practice or reads a statute as required."

Zhang Lei, senior partner at Beijing DHH Law Firm, told the Global Times on Tuesday that the court ruling has demonstrated that it's not in favor of the Trump administration's decision to ban the app.

"Court rulings in favor of TikTok in the US suggest a favorable outcome, although the court fight is likely to go on for a long period," Zhang said.

A judge in the state of Pennsylvania issued an injunction at the end of October against the prohibitions of any transaction with TikTok that would take effect on November 12, after three TikTok content creators won the lawsuit.

Previously, Nichols blocked the ban on downloads of TikTok from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

Separately, ByteDance, the Chinese parent of TikTok, challenged an order from the Treasury Department to sell TikTok's US assets. The US Court of Appeals in Washington on Thursday gave ByteDance and the Trump administration December 14 and December 28 deadlines to file documents in the case, media reported.

Although a new forced divestment deadline has not been announced after two previous extensions, analysts said talks on a deal between ByteDance and US companies have probably continued. 

"There has hardly been any clear result during the transition period under the Trump administration, and the ball will be kicked into Biden's court," Shun Yu, an independent observer, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

"My worries over TikTok's fate in the US have gradually ebbed as you can see Trump's threat has waned. TikTok's fate, after all, would be a balanced one centered on capital and multiple parties' interests," Shun said. 

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