Trump's TikTok ban hits another roadblock

Trump in the background of the TikTok splash screen

President Trump has hit another roadblock in his continued attempt to block TikTok from operating in the US.

A second judge has granted a preliminary injunction temporarily barring the US Department of Commerce's proposed restrictions on the company.

According to Reuters, US District Judge Carl Nichols issued the injunction this week. It stopped measures that would have prevented the social media network, operated by Chinese company ByteDance, from operating in the US altogether.

In August, the president issued executive orders banning transactions with TikTok's owner Bytedance and with Tencent, owner of WeChat. The order called for TokTok to be shut down or sold to a US company and was supposed to take effect within 45 days.

US judges have stymied the executive order's measures on several occasions. On September 27, Nichols granted an injunction that stopped the Commerce Department from blocking downloads of TikTok by new users.

The Commerce Department had also planned to bar companies from providing internet hosting or content delivery services to TikTok, in a measure that was due to take effect in November and would have cut the service off from its existing US user base.

The Commerce Department backed down shortly before its deadline due to Judge Wendy Beetlestone’s October 30 injunction against those measures. The injunction was part of a case bought by TikTok users said to be organized and supported by TikTok.

Nichols' latest injunction also stops the government from cutting off cloud services for TikTok. Judge Nichols said that the government had "acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner by failing to consider obvious alternatives."

The legal roadblocks give ByteDance more time to negotiate the divestment of its US business. ByteDance had settled on Oracle as a partner in a Trump-blessed deal that would bring its cloud business to the database and cloud giant. The sticking point in that deal is the size of Oracle's ownership stake. Talks are ongoing.

The White House's executive orders responded to concerns that TikTok and WeChat were collecting data on US users and Chinese visitors to the US.

Danny Bradbury

Danny Bradbury has been a print journalist specialising in technology since 1989 and a freelance writer since 1994. He has written for national publications on both sides of the Atlantic and has won awards for his investigative cybersecurity journalism work and his arts and culture writing. 

Danny writes about many different technology issues for audiences ranging from consumers through to software developers and CIOs. He also ghostwrites articles for many C-suite business executives in the technology sector and has worked as a presenter for multiple webinars and podcasts.