Users are breathing a sigh of relief after a last-minute decision by a judge in Washington, DC to temporarily block a proposed ban of the popular app.
US district judge Carl Nichols made the decision to grant a preliminary injunction requested by ByteDance, the company that owns and operates TikTok. As part of the temporary injunction, the popular app will remain available for download and use in app stores for customers located in the US.
The controversy began after US President Donald Trump signed an executive order earlier in the month demanding that the social media and entertainment app be removed from the Apple and Google stores. This move would have made it impossible for new users to download the app. However, even after these TikTok ban news, those who had already been using TikTok on their devices would still be able to access and use the app.
While the official decision was made on Sunday just hours before the proposed ban was to take place, the documents detailing the ruling were not unsealed until Monday. Despite being a Trump appointee, Nichols said that the proposed ban would have tried to regulate the exchange of information materials. This attempt is expressly forbidden by the law.
Nichols went on to say that while Trump's order leaned on the opinion that the use of TikTok was a national security risk, he did not feel as if the information shared on the app qualified within the meaning of the Espionage Act. Because of these reasons, Nichols moved to grant the restraining order on the ban.
Despite the short-term win by TikTok, Nichols did not yet block the ban that is set to take effect on November 12 in the US. TikTok is challenging the ban by calling it unconstitutional because it mitigates the rules of due process.
Lawyers representing the US government and the Trump administration have argued that TikTok's ownership by a firm based in China presents a significant national security risk. With ByteDance's international headquarters in Beijing, Trump said that the app can harness the slew of user data to hurt the US. An official government briefing regarding the issue referred to ByteDance as a mouthpiece for the Chinese Communist Party.
Earlier in the month, ByteDance announced a tentative purchasing agreement with Oracle (ORCL) and Walmart (WMT). As part of the deal, partial ownership of ByteDance would be awarded to American companies and investors to help to assuage the security concerns. The president has given his approval to move forward with this plan. Both sides of the agreement are still negotiating the specific terms.
After the ruling, TikTok officials said that they were pleased with the temporary injunction, assuring that they intend to continue the open dialogue and willingness to work with the government. Likewise, the US Commerce Department said that it would comply with the ruling but intends to vigorously defend its right to promote national security.
According to ByteDance, over 100 million Americans launch the app at least once a month. Of those users, half of them use it every single day. On a global scale, the TikTok app has been downloaded two billion unique times, making it a leader in the social media space.