Trump’s TikTok Ban Blocked by Judge Hours Before It Was to Take Effect

An attorney for the app said shutting it down infringed on its users’ free speech

Last Updated: September 27, 2020 @ 6:23 PM

Donald Trump’s ban of TikTok was blocked by a federal judge Sunday night, just hours before it was to take effect, with lawyers for the video-sharing app accusing the president of infringing on free speech and due process rights.

John Hall, an attorney for TikTok, made the case that the popular app is a “modern day version of the town square” and shuttering it is like silencing speech of its 100 million American users. In its filing Wednesday, TikTok and its interim Chief Executive Vanessa Pappas argued that taking its app off Apple’s App Store and Google Play would cause “devastating and irreparable harm” to the company and could “decimate the app’s user base.”

Judge Carl Nichols of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia responded by halting the ban, which was set to begin at midnight Sunday.

TikTok parent company ByteDance filed suit against President Trump and the U.S. Department of Commerce Wednesday, requesting that the court allow the app to continue operating in U.S. app stores as it works to finalize a merger with an American company.

The president had given TikTok a deadline of Sept. 27 to finalize and gain government approval of a sale of its U.S. assets to an American-owned company, after voicing concerns that the app was misusing user information and jeopardizing national security. If a sale hadn’t been approved by that date, Trump said, he would ban new downloads in U.S. app stores.

The judge’s block means the Chinese-owned app can continue to operate without interruption until a full court hearing.