A judge of United States issued this Sunday an order that prevents the government of Donald Trump from banning downloads and updates from the Chinese social network TikTok, something that could have happened this midnight, at least until Justice pronounces again.
Magistrate Carl J. Nichols of the federal court of the District of Columbia thus granted the request of the lawyers of the Chinese firm, who were seeking a temporary blocking of the possible ban while the two parties face each other in court.
Nichols’ decision definitively transfers to Justice a dispute that started in August, when Trump issued an executive order that threatened to ban TikTok in the US if the owner firm, the Chinese ByteDance did not sell its business in the country to US companies.
“Threat to national security”
According to the President of the United States, the fact that it is an application owned by a Chinese company supposes a national security threat because of the existing links in China between the private sector and the Government of the Chinese Communist Party.
After weeks of negotiations, ByteDance reached an agreement in principle with the North American companies Oracle and Walmart, which received preliminary approval from the White House, but in recent days the conversations were not bearing fruit And there was a real chance that Trump would carry out his threat to ban downloads of the app when it ended on Sunday.
A few hours before the ruling, on Sunday morning, Nichols held a hearing in which he heard the arguments of the Government, which affirmed that TikTok is a threat because it collects data about its users and, being a Chinese company, then it must collaborate obligatorily with the intelligence services of that country.
About the data
For their part, the lawyers of TikTok denied the company shares data with Chinese authorities and argued that, in reality, Trump’s goal is to restrict freedom of expression.
“This case is about freedom of expression and freedom of communication. It is something inherent in the business that has been the target of the attack. TikTok is an application, but it is much more. It is a modern version of communication in the electronic age that has gained popularity especially in the pandemic, “said one of the company’s lawyers, Alexander Berengaut.
If the judge had not agreed with ByteDance and the White House had decided to go ahead with its threat, Google and Apple, which control the two main virtual stores for mobile phones, they would have been forced to withdraw to TikTok of them in the United States, in compliance with the presidential order.
Although only two weeks ago, the agreement between ByteDance on the one hand and Oracle and Walmart on the other seemed on track, in recent days the two parties have offered contradictory versions about whether ByteDance would continue to be a main part of the shareholding of the new company that is created to run the TikTok business in the US.