US Judge Postpones TikTok Ban; Oracle & Walmart In Talks With Partner

Washington: A federal judge on Sunday temporarily blocked a Trump administration order to ban TikTok app from midnight.

The judge, Carl Nichols of US District Court for the District of Columbia, did not agree to postpone the more comprehensive ban on the app scheduled to take effect on November 12.

In an emergency hearing on Sunday morning, lawyers representing TikTok argued that the administration’s app-store ban would violate First Amendment rights and do irreparable harm to the business. Lawyer John Hall mentioned that TikTok functions as a “modern day version of a town square.” “If that prohibition goes into effect at midnight, the consequences immediately are grave,”” he said. “It would be no different than the government locking the doors to a public forum, roping off that town square” at a time when a free exchange of ideas is necessary heading into a polarized election. He also argued that a ban would prevent new content creators talent from coming up.

Justice Department lawyer Daniel Schwei pointed out that Chinese companies are not purely private and compelled to cooperate with China’s intelligence agencies. He also said that economic regulations of this nature generally are not subject to First Amendment scrutiny.

“This is the most immediate national security threat,” argued Schwei. “It is a threat today. It is a risk today and therefore it deserves to be addressed today even while other things are ongoing and playing out.”

Earlier this year, President Donald Trump announced that the Chinese video-sharing app was a threat to national security and that it will be banned from the country if it doesn’t sell its US operations to American companies.

ByteDance, the owner of TikTok, has been scrambling to find a US partner and is trying to strike a deal with Oracle and Walmart. The American companies could own a combined 20 per cent of a new US entity – TikTok Global to which Trump has given a tentative approval subject to Oracle having “total control”. The deal isn’t finalized and ByteDance has said it will still own 80 per cent of the US entity. Oracle, however, has stated that Americans “will be the majority and ByteDance will have no ownership in TikTok Global.”

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