US judge blocks TikTok ban, calls security threat ‘hypothetical’

TikTok got yet another reprieve on Friday after a federal judge blocked a Trump administration ban which would have effectively shut down the Chinese-owned app in the US on Nov. 12.

The Pennsylvania judge issued a preliminary injunction Friday that will stop US officials from restricting the popular video platform’s web hosting and content delivery after three TikTok users argued that it would stop them from being able to make a living.

The judge wrote that because TikTok videos can be deemed “informational materials,” the president’s ban would stop the spread of the videos in addition to blocking “business-to-business transactions.”

“[The ban] will have the effect of shutting down, within the United States, a platform for expressive activity used by approximately 700 million individuals globally,” the judge wrote. “Over 100 million of these TikTok users are within the United States, and at least 50 million of these US users use the app on a daily basis.”

The judge added that “the Government’s own descriptions of the national security threat posed by the TikTok app are phrased in the hypothetical,” and that they “cannot say the risk presented by the Government outweighs the public interest” in keeping TikTok running.

The government parties in the suit — which include President Trump, the Department of Commerce and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross — have argued that the TikTok’s parent company ByteDance has direct ties to officials in Beijing and could siphon personal information from American TikTok users that could then be used against the country.

US officials couldn’t immediately be reached for comment about the Friday ruling.

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