Now a second federal judge has vetoed the Trump administration’s effort to ban TikTok downloads in the U.S., emphasizing the dwindling legal options the president has to pursue an outright eradication of the app.
On Monday, Judge Carl Nichols of the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., handed down a preliminary injunction that forbids the Commerce Department from throwing restrictions on TikTok that would’ve essentially abolished the app in the U.S.
Lawyers for TikTok intimated that Trump officials’ “failure to adequately consider an obvious and reasonable alternative before banning TikTok” renders the clampdown against the app “arbitrary and capricious,” wrote Nichols, who is a Trump appointee.
Citing a threat to national security, Trump’s Commerce Department had sought to hinder the app from being downloaded in app stores and attempted to thwart transactions between Americans and TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance. According to Trump officials, U.S. user data is at risk of being obtained by Chinese authorities because of the close ties the authoritarian syndicate has with private business in the country.
U.S. user data is mostly stored by TikTok on servers in Virginia, with backup storage in Singapore. Company officials say Chinese authorities have never attempted to gain access to Americans’ information. White House officials have contended, without evidence, that TikTok could be used as a Chinese spy tool.
Nichols’s order mirrors an October decision from a case that TikTok creators brought in Pennsylvania court, arguing that the ban would have deprived them of their income and their ability to express themselves. The judge in that suit, Wendy Beetlestone, placed an embargo on the restrictions on October 30.
A TikTok spokesperson said the company is satisfied with the latest court victory, saying: “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.”