US Judge Halts TikTok Ban in Response to ByteDance Lawsuit

Another deadline has come and gone, but now, TikTok has won some reassurance. A Judge has halted the Trump TikTok ban.

It’s a story with loads of moving parts – and those moving parts just keep on moving. As you might recall, a last minute Walmart Oracle TikTok deal delayed the Trump ban for a week. If you recall, that ban was set to expire on the 20th. An additional week would mean that TikTok’s ban is set to take place on the 27th. Obviously, we are past that. So, has TikTok been banned? The answer is, “no”. So, whats going on?

Back in early August, you might recall that TikTok threatening to sue over the ban. In late August, they followed through with that threat and sued the president over the ban. While so much was happening in the interim, the lawsuit was far from dead.

Now, that lawsuit appears to be bearing fruit. Hours before the ban was set to take effect, a US judge has blocked the ban in response to the lawsuit. From NPR:

A federal judge on Sunday blocked President Trump’s TikTok ban, granting a temporary reprieve to the wildly popular video-sharing app.

During a telephone court hearing on Sunday, lawyers for TikTok argued that Trump’s clampdown infringed on free speech and due process rights.

John Hall, an attorney for TikTok, said that the app, with some 100 million American users, is a “modern day version of the town square” and shutting it down is akin to silencing speech.

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

The free speech issue might ring a bell for some. After Trump rejected the Oracle TikTok deal, analysts had to fall back on previous analysis of what the Trump ban means and whether or not it was illegal. The day before the previous deadline, some analysts were pointing out that the ban was unconstitutional. Specifically, banning the app is a violation of free speech.

When the initial ban took place, it enveloped WeChat as well. WeChat, of course, was not part of the TikTok litigation. So, they separately sued the president to block the ban. They wound up being successful in convincing a judge that the Executive order was unconstitutional citing that it is a violation of free speech. In response, the judge agreed to block the ban for WeChat as the case moved ahead. That would no doubt be good news for ByteDance because TikTok is part of the exact same ban. This judgement appears to mirror the WeChat decision.

So, despite the second deadline coming and going, TikTok continues to remain not banned. This time, the blocking of the ban appears to be much more predictable and in the hands of the courts at this time.

As so many know, court cases generally take a long time. Sometimes, they take years. Other times, they can take up to a decade or longer to resolve. This court case may prove to be the turning point where time is finally on TikTok’s side. Instead of trying to jump through hoops to make it to the next short deadline, now a long drawn out legal battle will take place as the app continues to remain available for users.

Trump, however, may not last as long as the court case. If he loses the up and coming election, this decision would prove to be the moment ByteDance defeated the ban. On the other hand, if Trump wins the next election (God help us all), then the court case need only to drag on for four more years. That is certainly more than possible when you consider the appeals processes of the US. Either way, it’s quite a switch now that ByteDance is now the one simply needing to run down the clock. An outright court win would be even better, but it may not even be necessary at this stage.

One thing is for sure, this is quite the turning point for ByteDance and TikTok users.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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