Second Judge Blocks TikTok Ban

A second federal judge has prohibited the government from enforcing an executive order by President Trump that would have effectively shut down the social video app TikTok in the U.S.

The new ruling, issued Monday by U.S. District Court Judge Carl Nichols in Washington, D.C., comes one month after a different judge, U.S. District Court Judge Wendy Beetlestone in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, separately enjoined the Trump administration from enforcing its planned ban.

Nichols previously issued a more limited order that prohibited the government from blocking new downloads of TikTok, owned by the Chinese company ByteDance.

The current battle over TikTok dates to August, when President Trump said in an executive order that TikTok posed a security risk, and mandated a ban on all U.S. transactions with the company. The Commerce Department subsequently attempted to carry out that order by prohibiting a number of different transactions between TikTok and U.S. companies.

If those prohibitions had gone into effect, they would have effectively prevented TikTok from operating in the U.S. by last month.

The planned ban sparked several different lawsuits against the Trump administration, including one by TikTok, which filed a complaint in federal court in Washington, D.C.

Nichols, who presides over that case, said in Monday's ruling that TikTok was likely to prevail with its argument that the government's prohibitions were not authorized by the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

That law allows the president to declare a national emergency and restrict some -- but not all -- transactions with foreign countries.

The International Emergency Economic Powers Act specifically doesn't authorize the president to regulate “informational material” -- including photos and news feeds -- or “personal communications.”

“It is undisputed that the Secretary’s prohibitions will prevent Americans from sharing personal communications on TikTok,” Nichols wrote.

In September, Oracle and Walmart agreed to purchase TikTok from ByteDance, whether that deal will be finalized remains unclear.

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