Federal Judge Tells Trump Administration to Postpone Sept. 27 Ban of TikTok or Prepare to Defend It

At a hearing Thursday, Judge Carl Nichols of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia told the Trump administration that it had until 2:30 p.m. on Friday to postpone an 11:59 p.m. Sunday ban on short-form video app TikTok or be prepared to defend it in a weekend hearing.

TikTok filed for a preliminary injunction against the administration Wednesday seeking to stop the first phase of a ban that was scheduled to take effect last week but was postponed due to the announcement of a deal between the company, Oracle, Walmart, and other investors. With the deal still pending and approval from the Chinese government undetermined, TikTok decided to sue this week.

At the hearing Justice Department lawyer Daniel Schwei defended the phased-in approach of the Sept. 27 ban, saying that it preserves the service for those who already have it installed but also protects user data.

“There are significant national-security risks associated with new users continuing to sign up for the application and having their sensitive personal information made vulnerable,” he said, according to the Wall Street Journal.

TikTok lawyer John Hall argued that barring new users from joining the app and engaging in “protected speech” prior to a national election would be unfair.

“Two-thirds of the country that currently aren’t on the app are going to be barred from joining it, engaging in protected speech [shortly] before a national election,” Hall told the court. 

Should the ban make it to an emergency Sunday morning hearing, TikTok will argue that, in addition to the damage to its reputation, the ban violates the First Amendment rights of the platforms and its hundreds of millions of users.

Also on Wednesday, Interim Head of TikTok Vanessa Pappas filed a declaration in support of a preliminary injunction, detailing how the administration’s actions against the company have damaged its reputation, sabotaged advertising deals, and scared away new users, among other things. 

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