Tiktok owner seeks to block Trump ban

Firm has un­til this week­end to get sale of U.S. op­er­a­tions ap­proved

The Standard (St. Catharines) - - BUSINESS - DAVID YAFFE-BELLANY

The owner of Tiktok asked a fed­eral judge in Wash­ing­ton for a pre­lim­i­nary in­junc­tion to block the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion from re­mov­ing the so­cial net­work from U.S. app stores.

Tiktok faces a dead­line this week­end to get a sale of its U.S. op­er­a­tions ap­proved or face a de facto ban in the U.S. stem­ming from an Aug. 6 ex­ec­u­tive or­der by U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. The in­junc­tion re­quest, filed by Tiktok’s Chi­nese owner, Bytedance Ltd., chal­lenges new Com­merce Depart­ment rules that would see Tiktok re­moved from app stores start­ing this month and re­quire changes to its core func­tion­al­ity that the com­pany says would ef­fec­tively shut it down in the U.S. en­tirely by mid-novem­ber.

Bytedance asked for an ex­pe­dited court hear­ing be­fore the rule takes ef­fect at 11:59 p.m on Sun­day.

The com­pany pro­posed that ad­di­tional briefs should be filed later this week.

Tiktok has “made ex­tra­or­di­nary ef­forts to try to sat­isfy the gov­ern­ment’s ever-shift­ing de­mands and pur­ported na­tional se­cu­rity con­cerns,” Bytedance said in its fil­ing.

“In the ab­sence of pre­lim­i­nary in­junc­tive re­lief, the Aug. 6 or­der and the pro­hi­bi­tions will cause plain­tiffs ir­repara­ble harm.”

The fil­ing seeks the in­junc­tion on many of the same grounds as users of Wechat, an­other Chi­nese-owned app, in­clud­ing the First Amend­ment and that it would cause ir­repara­ble harm. Wechat users in the U.S., fac­ing a sim­i­lar ban, won a pre­lim­i­nary in­junc­tion on Sept.19 from a judge in Cal­i­for­nia who ruled that the ban would harm free speech.

Trump’s or­der fol­lowed an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the Com­mit­tee on For­eign In­vest­ment in the U.S., which re­views pro­posed ac­qui­si­tions of do­mes­tic busi­nesses by over­seas in­vestors for na­tional se­cu­rity con­cerns. It set off a flurry of at­tempted deal-mak­ing, push­ing Bytedance to seek a sale of the video app’s Amer­i­can op­er­a­tions to a U.S. com­pany.

Tiktok has reached a deal with Or­a­cle Corp. and Wal­mart Inc., although the Chi­nese side isn’t happy with it. On Satur­day, Trump said he had given his “bless­ing” to the deal but warned that it could still fall apart.

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