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TikTok ban on new downloads delayed by federal judge

Lawyers for TikTok had argued that the ban would infringe on the rights of US citizens to broadcast their views.

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TikTok's ban has been temporarily delayed.

A US District Court judge has granted TikTok's request for a preliminary injunction, delaying a planned ban on new downloads of the app that was supposed to go into effect starting Sunday at 11:59 p.m. ET.

The US Justice Department had until Friday to either delay the ban or file legal papers defending it. The DOJ filed a sealed opposition to TikTok's preliminary injunction to block the ban of the video app, but Judge Carl Nichols of the District Court for the District of Columbia has ruled in TikTok's favor. 

"We're pleased that the court agreed with our legal arguments and issued an injunction preventing the implementation of the TikTok app ban," TikTok said in a statement. "We will continue defending our rights for the benefit of our community and employees. At the same time, we will also maintain our ongoing dialogue with the government to turn our proposal, which the President gave his preliminary approval to last weekend, into an agreement."

In August President Trump signed an executive order banning "any transaction by any person" with Bytedance, citing national security concerns. A separate executive order, issued Aug. 14, ordered ByteDance to sell its US operations by Nov. 12, leading to a potential deal with Oracle, which is currently up in the air

The order to ban new downloads of TikTok via Apple's App Store and the Google Play Store had initially been issued on Sept. 18 by the Commerce Department, and was scheduled to take effect Sept. 20. That ban was delayed until Sept. 27 after a potential deal between Oracle and TikTok was announced. This successful request for a preliminary injunction delays any potential bans further. 

Lawyers for TikTok had argued that removing the app in the lead-up to an election, in the midst of a pandemic, would infringe on the rights of US citizens to broadcast their views.

It would be "no different from the government locking the doors to a public forum," said John Hall, a lawyer for TikTok. He called the decision to ban new downloads "arbitrary and capricious."

The US Department of Commerce said in a statement that the government would "comply with the injunction and has taken immediate steps to do so," but that it also intends to "vigorously defend" against legal challenges to the president's executive order regarding TikTok and the department's implementation efforts.

See also: TikTok-Oracle deal and a potential US ban: Everything you need to know

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