On Monday, the U.S. government appealed a federal judge’s ruling blocking the administration’s ban on Chinese short video sharing app TikTok. If successful, a new ruling may effectively prevent Americans from downloading and using the app, which currently attracts more than 100 million users in the country.
A Department of Commerce’s spokesperson issued a statement on Dec.28, saying “The Department maintains that the [executive order] is fully consistent with law and promotes legitimate national security interests. The Government will continue to comply with the injunctions and has taken immediate steps to do so, but intends to vigorously defend the [executive order] and the Secretary’s implementation efforts from legal challenges.”
The Trump administration has been trying to ban the company from the US for a year. In December 2019, the U.S. government raised concerns over TikTok’s Chinese ownership as its parent company ByteDance faced a security examination. TikTok denied the allegations.
Prior to yesterday’s ruling, on Dec.7, Judge Carl Nichols granted a preliminary injunction blocking the US Department of Commerce from imposing restrictions on TikTok. Nichols argued that the Department’s decisions “likely exceeded IEEPA’s [the International Emergency Economic Powers Act] express limitations as part of an agency action” and “acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner by failing to consider obvious alternatives.”
In September, a group of TikTok influencers won another legal battle for TikTok, as they filed a lawsuit arguing a ban would violate their freedom of speech and deprive them of “protected liberty and property interests without due process.” U.S. Judge Wendy Beetlestone subsequently issued an injunction that blocked the restrictions imposed on the social media platform.
Earlier this month, the Trump administration declined TikTok’s request for a new extension to divest its American assets. The order was issued by the president in August, meaning the Department of Justice can enforce the divestiture order once the Dec. 4 deadline expired. Under pressure from the government, ByteDance has been talking with Walmart Inc and Oracle Corp to shift its U.S. assets into a new entity.
On Dec. 16, acting U.S. attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, refused to reveal whether the Department of Justice would seek to enforce the order, according to Reuters.
However, officials revealed that it is unlikely the government will decide TikTok’s fate in America before President Donald Trump leaves office on Jan. 20. External factors may reverse the deal in January, according to Reuters.