US judge blocks Trump administration’s restrictions on TikTok

A judge in the US has granted a preliminary injunction barring the US Commerce Department from putting restrictions that it had planned to impose on short video-sharing platform TikTok.

The order on Monday came in response to challenge to the Donald Trump administration’s executive order on August 6 that would have barred US companies from doing transactions with the Chinese parent company of TikTok, ByteDance, The Verge reported.

That order invoked the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), a legislation that lets the US president to bar transactions between the US and foreign entities.

US District Judge Carl Nichols said that “the government likely exceeded IEEPA’s express limitations.”

“We’re pleased that the court agreed with us and granted a preliminary injunction against all the prohibitions of the Executive Order,” a TikTok spokesperson was quoted as saying in a statement.

“We’re focused on continuing to build TikTok as the home that 100 million Americans, including families and small businesses, rely upon for expression, connection, economic livelihood, and true joy.”

Nichols granted TikTok’s motion for a preliminary injunction against the items that the Commerce Department was planning to prohibit.

His order comes after US judge Wendy Beetlestone in Pennsylvania — in a suit brought by some TikTok users — barred the same restrictions that were set to go into effect on November 12.

“The court’s ruling is consistent with the nationwide preliminary injunction granted by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on October 30, 2020,” a Commerce Department spokesperson was quoted as saying in a statement.

“The Department maintains that the E.O. is fully consistent with law and promotes legitimate national security interests.”

Earlier, on September 27, Nichols granted TikTok a preliminary injunction that allowed people to continue downloading the app.

He did not issue order on the Commerce Department’s restrictions at that time.

However, talks between TikTok and US officials will continue on reaching a deal on sale of the platform’s US assets, CNN reported last week.