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Second US judge blocks Trump’s TikTok ban

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(FILES) In this file combination of pictures created on August 1, 2020 shows the logo of the social media video sharing app Tiktok displayed on a tablet screen in Paris, and US President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, DC, on July 30, 2020. – President Donald Trump has voiced approval of Oracle Corp’s reported bid for TikTok, the Chinese video-sharing sensation that could also be bought by Microsoft. Reports said Oracle — whose chairman Larry Ellison has raised millions in campaign funds for Trump — was weighing a bid for TikTok’s operations in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Taking questions after a speech on August 18, 2020 in Yuma, Arizona, Trump said: “I think Oracle is a great company, and I think its owner is a tremendous guy. He’s a tremendous person. (Photos by Lionel BONAVENTURE and JIM WATSON / AFP)

A second US federal judge has suspended a Trump administration executive order threatening to ban TikTok in the United States.

The preliminary injunction granted late Monday by judge Carl Nichols in a district court in Washington DC comes more than a month after a similar decision in Pennsylvania.

Nichols said TikTok’s lawyers had demonstrated that the Commerce Department likely overstepped its authority by seeking to ban the popular social media app and “acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner by failing to consider obvious alternatives.”

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The White House claims TikTok is a national security risk because of potential links to the Beijing government through its Chinese owner ByteDance.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order on August 6 giving Americans 45 days to stop doing business with ByteDance — effectively setting a deadline for a sale of the app to a US company.

Trump’s order said the action was necessary to “protect our national security” and claimed the personal data of TikTok users could be used by Beijing.

TikTok has repeatedly defended itself against allegations of data transfers to the Chinese government, saying it stores user information on servers in the United States and Singapore.

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The latest order follows an October 30 ruling by a federal court in Pennsylvania which issued a temporary injunction blocking Trump’s ban.

After a complaint from three TikTok content creators, Judge Wendy Beetlestone ordered the US administration not to prevent other companies from providing essential services to the platform, such as online hosting.

Beetlestone had considered that the August 6 presidential decree should be suspended.

At the end of September, judge Nichols had also issued a temporary injunction stopping the US from banning downloads of the app, which he said would cause “irreparable harm” to TikTok, but he refused to rule on its total ban in the United States.

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TikTok has a further fight on its hands over an August 14 executive order from Trump to force ByteDance to sell its US operations to an American buyer.

The US Treasury has repeatedly extended the deadline for the Chinese group to divest, and indicated on Friday it would continue negotiations to resolve the dispute.

TikTok has 100 million users in the United States and 700 million worldwide.

Washington is in a tense trade battle with Beijing, and Trump’s administration has stepped up warnings about China’s growing economic and military power.

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