Federal Judge Blocks TikTok Ban, Giving Chinese App an Opening to Settle Deal with Oracle

by Chris White


A federal judge blocked the Trump administration’s attempt to block TikTok Sunday, giving the Chinese social media platform an opportunity to forge a deal with Oracle.

The decision gives TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, more time to approve a deal with Oracle and Walmart, media reports show. Judge Carl Nichols’s decision came hours before President Donald Trump’s ban of the video-streaming app was expected to take place.

Trump gave the Oracle deal with TikTok a preliminary blessing, suggesting the administration believes the deal satisfies national security concerns.  The U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment still must iron out the details and address which company would have majority ownership. Beijing could also nix any deal.

Trump signed a pair of executive orders Aug. 6 prohibiting individuals from communicating with ByteDance after 45 days. The orders barred “any transaction by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States,” with ByteDance and Tencent Holdings, the parent company of WeChat.

Some lawmakers believe a deal between Oracle and TikTok will not satisfy concerns that the app poses a threat to national security. Republican Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley said in a Sept. 14 letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that the partnership won’t prohibit the Chinese Communist Party from controlling the app.

“[A]n ongoing ‘partnership’ that allows for anything other than the full emancipation of the TikTok software from potential Chinese Communist Party control is completely unacceptable, and flatly inconsistent with the President’s Executive Order of August 6,” Hawley wrote after suggesting the app might have to undergo a ban if ByteDance does not find a buyer.

TikTok expressed relief after Nichols’s move. “We will continue defending our rights for the benefit of our community and employees,” a company spokeswoman said in a statement, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The Commerce Department, the agency housing the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment, said in a statement to the Journal that the administration would comply with the injunction, but will move forward with a proposed ban through other legal means.

TikTok argued in court Sunday that the ban would harm business. “This is just punitive,” company lawyer John Hall said during Sunday’s arguments. “This is just a blunt way to whack the company now while doing nothing to achieve the stated objective of the prohibitions.”

The federal government, meanwhile, maintained the right to protect TikTok users. The Commerce Department is entitled “to address the most important, immediate threat to national security, which is new users continuing to sign up and making their data vulnerable to the Chinese government,” Justice Department lawyer Daniel Schwei said during court proceedings.

TikTok has not responded to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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Chris White is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation
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