Judge blocks TikTok ban as ‘suppression’ by US opposed – World – Chinadaily.com.cn

The TikTok logo is pictured outside the company’s US head office in Culver City, California, US, Sept 15, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

Beijing reiterated on Monday its opposition to what it called Washington’s hegemonic act of unjustified suppression and targeting of non-US companies by abusing state power using national security as a pretext.

“We hope that the US will earnestly respect the principles of the market economy and fair competition, observe international trade rules and foster an open, fair, just and nondiscriminatory business environment for foreign companies operating and investing in the US,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a regular news briefing in Beijing.

Wang made the remark after a United States federal judge ruled on Sunday in favor of TikTok by temporarily blocking US President Donald Trump’s order to ban downloads of the app in the country.

US District Judge Carl Nichols in Washington, DC, made the decision hours before the ban was to take effect on Sunday at midnight.

Li Haidong, a professor of US studies at China Foreign Affairs University, said the decision showed that even the US public and courts are not supportive of the US government’s suppression of TikTok, which goes against laws and market economy rules.

“Overseas Chinese companies should make full use of legal means to strike a powerful counterblow to any political form of blackmail or suppression,” he said.

The popular short-video service requested an injunction Wednesday to temporarily block the US Commerce Department’s order to ban the app. The order, issued Sept 18, barred Apple and Google’s app stores from providing services for the app’s downloads and updates starting Sept 20. A day later, the department delayed the ban to give the company an additional week to finalize a deal.

On Thursday, the judge ordered the Trump administration to either postpone its ban or respond to the company’s request.

Late on Friday, the Justice Department filed its opposition to TikTok’s request, saying the injunction would “infringe on the President’s authority to block business-to-business economic transactions with a foreign entity in the midst of a declared national-security emergency”.

During Sunday’s hearing, TikTok’s lawyer described the ban as “unprecedented” and “irrational “and argued that it doesn’t make sense to impose the ban when there are negotiations underway.

The Commerce Department also ordered a separate set of technical restrictions on TikTok starting Nov 12, including halting data hosting within the US and content delivery services.

‘Political considerations’

TikTok argues the Trump administration’s restrictions “were not motivated by a genuine national security concern, but rather by political considerations relating to the upcoming general election”.

“It is very hard to separate out these particular actions against TikTok and WeChat from the fact that they are taking place in the context of President Trump’s trade war with China, as well as the president’s history of anti-Chinese rhetoric and xenophobia,” said Hina Shamsi, director of the National Security Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, during a webinar on Thursday.

She argued that the government’s concerns over national security are “to say the very least, overstated “when one looks at the facts. The government hasn’t provided specific and direct evidence of harm that justifies such a pervasive ban, she said.

Under the terms of the TikTok ban, existing users could still post videos, but no new downloads or updates of the app would be allowed, which could cause outages or glitches.

In separate litigation, three TikTok content creators requested a block on the app’s ban. The plaintiffs said they “earn a livelihood from the content they post on TikTok” and that the platform’s For You page is unique among social media platforms, because its algorithm allows “little-known creators to show their content to a large audience”.

A judge in Pennsylvania rejected the request Saturday, saying that the three had failed to prove they would suffer “immediate, irreparable harm” if new downloads are barred, since the app would remain operational for current subscribers.

Another federal judge, in San Francisco, blocked a similar ban from taking effect on the social media app WeChat. The judge cited “serious questions” about whether the WeChat ban infringed on users’ First Amendment rights.

The government has filed a motion in federal court to stay the WeChat ban preliminary injunction pending appeal. The plaintiffs will “strongly oppose” the government’s motion, according to the plaintiff’s lead lawyer.

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