US government says it won’t enforce TikTok shutdown after court ruling

Attack of the TikTok clones

The US Commerce Department says it will not enforce an order that would have forced video sharing platform TikTok to shut down, according to The Wall Street Journal. The government cited an injunction from a federal judge in Pennsylvania last month who wrote that the Commerce Department had likely overstepped its authority when it tried to ban transactions on the platform.

The government has cited concerns about national security, as TikTok is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance.

According to the WSJ, the Commerce Department said its shutdown order would not take effect “pending further legal developments.” Reuters’ David Shepardson says it’s not the first time the Commerce Department has confirmed it would comply with the injunction; it issued a statement on November 1st as well. At the time, it said it also “intends to vigorously defend the EO” from legal challenges, though.

“The short videos created and exchanged on TikTok are expressive and informative, and are analogous to the ‘films,’ ‘artworks,’ ‘photographs,’ and ‘news wire feeds’ expressly protected under” the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, Judge Wendy Beetlestone wrote in her ruling. A separate part of the Commerce Department’s restrictions, which would have blocked new downloads of the app starting on September 27th, was stopped as part of a different lawsuit.

The government’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States had set a deadline of November 12th for TikTok to divest itself of “any tangible or intangible assets or property, wherever located, used to enable or support ByteDance’s operation of the TikTok application in the United States.”

ByteDance agreed to sell part of its US business in a deal including Oracle and Walmart, which President Trump approved in September. But the deal was never approved by the Chinese government, and earlier this week, TikTok sought a review of the Trump administration’s actions, saying it had not heard anything new in several weeks.

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