TikTok seeks to block second round of US restrictions

TikTok Inc. asked a federal judge to block a broad set of government restrictions designed to curb use of the Chinese-owned video-sharing app in the U.S., less than three weeks after the company succeeded in halting the Trump administration's ban on new downloads. (Dreamstime/TNS)
advertisement
Testing Article Top Adspace

By David Yaffe-Bellany Bloomberg News (TNS)

WASHINGTON — TikTok Inc. asked a federal judge to block a broad set of government restrictions designed to curb use of the Chinese-owned video-sharing app in the U.S., less than three weeks after the company succeeded in halting the Trump administration’s ban on new downloads.

U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols in Washington blocked the download ban on Sept. 27, ruling that the U.S. likely exceeded its legal authority under the emergency powers statute it invoked to justify the prohibition. TikTok on Wednesday asked Nichols to issue an injunction against proposed rules forbidding companies from providing the underlying web services that make the app accessible in the U.S.

If those prohibitions go into effect on Nov. 12, people who currently have TikTok installed on their phones would still be able to use it, but the app’s functionality would degrade over time. That would amount to a “complete shut-down” in the U.S., the company said in its filing, and make it harder for it to recruit employees.

“There would be permanent, devastating harm to TikTok’s user base and competitive position,” the company said, “even if the government ban were to be lifted after a period of weeks or months.”

TikTok argued that the prohibitions, like the download ban, are rooted in an improper invocation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The U.S. contends that TikTok is a national security threat because its ownership by Beijing-based ByteDance Ltd. gives the Chinese government access to the personal data of millions of Americans. President Donald Trump has demanded that ByteDance find an American buyer for TikTok, and the company is seeking U.S. approval for a deal to sell a stake in the app to Oracle Corp. and Walmart Inc.

A lawyer for TikTok argued at a hearing last month that it “makes no sense” for the government to ban the app while ByteDance is still in talks for the deal the president has sought.

Last week, the Trump administration appealed Nichols’ ruling blocking the download ban to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington. The court on Wednesday issued a briefing schedule for the appeals process: The government will submit an opening brief by Oct. 16, with TikTok required to respond by Nov. 6.

———
©2020 Bloomberg News
Visit Bloomberg News at www.bloomberg.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
———