On Monday, a U.S. Court of Appeals questioned the Trump administration’s efforts to prohibit Americans from downloading China-owned TikTok from the U.S. App Store challenged government lawyers.

U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols banned the Commerce Department’s order hours in Washington on September 27 before banning new downloads of the short video sharing application.

The ban will require Apple and Google’s Google to remove the application from the store, thereby preventing new users from downloading the application or preventing existing users from downloading updated versions. It will not prevent existing users from accessing applications on their devices.

Court of Appeal judges Judith Rogers, Patricia Millett and Robert Wilkins interrogated TikTok and government lawyers for nearly 90 minutes on Monday morning. All three judges were nominated by successive Democratic presidents.

The two judges questioned whether the central government applied the arguments of the previous case.

Rogers said: “I know you say that, but Congress is written in this language.

On December 4, the Trump administration chose not to grant TikTok owner ByteDance a new extension order that required the company to divest TikTok’s American assets. TikTok’s lawyer, Beth Brinkmann, said at a court hearing that there are “ongoing negotiations” about the fate of the app.

President Donald Trump’s order in August gives the Justice Department the power to execute a divestment order after the deadline expires. But more than a week later, the department has not yet sought a forced divestment from the court.

The Obama administration believes that TikTok poses a national security risk because the Chinese government can obtain personal data of American users. TikTok, which has 100 million users in the United States, denies this accusation.

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Under pressure from the U.S. government, ByteDance has been in negotiations for months to finalize deals with Walmart and Oracle to transfer TikTok’s U.S. assets to a new entity designed to satisfy the divestiture order.

On December 7, Judge Nichols separately approved a preliminary injunction prohibiting the US Department of Commerce from imposing restrictions on TikTok, which would effectively prohibit the use of TikTok in the United States.

Nichols issued the order in a lawsuit filed by ByteDance after the U.S. District Court Judge Wendy Beetlestone of Pennsylvania blocked the restrictions that were originally scheduled to take effect on November 12.

Beetlestone also blocked the app store’s ban. Another court of appeal in Philadelphia will tentatively debate its February 11 ruling.

The Department of Commerce has tried to prohibit data custody for TikTok, content delivery services and other technology transactions in the United States.

© Thomson Reuters 2020


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