A federal judge on Tuesday refused to prohibit the government from implementing President Trump's executive order requiring ByteDance to sell the social video app in the U.S., or shut down in the country.
“There is a serious question about whether this Court has jurisdiction to issue a temporary restraining order at this point in time,” U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco said in a three-page ruling.
Chhabia added that ByteDance reportedly is in negotiations to “alter its ownership structure in a manner that could result in non-enforcement of the executive order,” obviously referring to reports that the company may forge a deal with Oracle.
The decision stemmed from a lawsuit brought by TikTok technical manager Patrick Ryan, who argued that a recent executive order will deprive himself -- along with the other 1,500 U.S.-based TikTok employees -- of their salaries without due process of law.
Trump said he was issuing the order due to national security concerns posed by ByteDance's data collection.
“TikTok automatically captures vast swaths of information from its users, including Internet and other network activity information such as location data and browsing and search histories,” the order states. “This data collection threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information -- potentially allowing China to track the locations of Federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage.”
Ryan alleged in his challenge to the order that he could face prosecution for receiving a paycheck from TikTok after September 20, or that TikTok would refuse to pay him.
But Chhabria wrote that Ryan didn't show that he could face irreparable harm from the executive order, noting that the Department of Commerce said Monday in court papers that it won't interfere with TikTok employees' salaries or benefits.
“To the extent Ryan seeks to protect a future paycheck (or to protect against prosecution for receiving money that TikTok owes him for work performed), that protection could be readily provided at a later date, if and when the possibility of losing it becomes more concrete,” Chhabria wrote.