WASHINGTON, Sept 27 (Reuters) - A U.S. judge has temporarily
blocked a Trump administration order that was set to bar Apple
Inc and Alphabet Inc's Google from offering
Chinese-owned short video-sharing app TikTok for download at
11:59 p.m. on Sunday.
U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols in Washington issued the
preliminary injunction in a brief order late on Sunday. He
declined "at this time" to block restrictions set to take effect
on Nov. 12 on technical and business arrangements which are
crucial for the app to function properly.
Nichols' detailed written opinion is expected to be released
as soon as Monday.
The Commerce Department said in a statement it "will comply
with the injunction and has taken immediate steps to do so."
The statement, which defended the TikTok order and Trump's
executive order demanding owner ByteDance divest its TikTok U.S.
operations, did not specify whether the government would appeal.
The injunction comes at a time when negotiations are
underway to hammer out terms of a preliminary deal for Walmart
Inc and Oracle Corp to take stakes in a new
company, TikTok Global, that would oversee U.S. operations.
Trump has said he had given the deal his "blessing."
But key terms of the deal - including who will have
majority ownership - are in dispute. ByteDance has also said any
deal will need to be approved by China and Beijing has revised
its list of technologies subject to export bans, in a way that
gives it a say over any TikTok deal.
TikTok said it was pleased with the injunction and added it
would maintain its "ongoing dialogue with the government to turn
our proposal, which the president gave his preliminary approval
to last week, into an agreement."
John E. Hall, a lawyer for TikTok, argued earlier on Sunday
that the ban was "unprecedented" and "irrational".
"How does it make sense to impose this app store ban tonight
when there are negotiations under way that might make it
unnecessary?" Hall asked during a 90-minute hearing. "This is
just punitive. This is just a blunt way to whack the company.
... There is simply no urgency here."
Representatives for Chinese state media welcomed the ruling.
"I think it is in line with morality, justice and common
sense," Hu Xijin, the editor in chief of the Global Times
newspaper said on Twitter on Monday.
Chinese state media have said they see no reason for China
to approve the deal, describing it as based on "bullying and
Trump's administration contends that TikTok poses national
security concerns as personal data collected on 100 million
Americans who use the app could be obtained by China's
government. Any deal will also still need to be reviewed by the
U.S. government's Committee on Foreign Investment in the United
The Justice Department said a preliminary injunction would
be "interfering with a formal national security judgment of the
president; altering the landscape with respect to ongoing CFIUS
negotiations; and continuing to allow sensitive and valuable
user information to flow to ByteDance with respect to all new
Another U.S. judge, in Pennsylvania, on Saturday rejected a
bid by three TikTok content creators to block the ban, while a
judge in California has blocked a similar order from taking
effect that would ban Tencent Holdings' WeChat from
U.S. app stores.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Addditional reporting by
Yingzhi Yang in Beijing and Pei Li in Hong Kong; Editing by Bill
Berkrot, Peter Cooney and Edwina Gibbs)