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US Judge Blocks Commerce Department Order to Ban TikTok App

On Friday, a US judge in Pennsylvania suspended a US Commerce Department passed an order to take effect on November 12 that would have effectively restricted TikTok, a Chinese-owned short video-sharing app, from operating in the United States.

Judge Wendy Beetlestone of the US District Court directed the Commerce Department to ban data hosting for TikTok, content distribution services and other technical transactions within the United States.

Beetlestone said the order would "have the effect of shutting down a platform for expressive behaviour used by more than 100 million of these TikTok users within the United States, and at least 50 million of these US users use the app on a regular basis."

The Department of Commerce recognized that the restrictions would "significantly decrease the accessibility and usefulness of the app."

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In a lawsuit brought by TikTok owner ByteDance on September 27, US District Judge Carl Nichols in Washington granted a preliminary injunction prohibiting the US Commerce Department from requiring Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc's Google app stores to uninstall TikTok for download by new users. The order came to take effect, later that day.

Nichols is expected to hold a November 4 hearing on the other aspects of the Commerce Department order blocked on Friday by Beetlestone.

The order by Beetlestone, in a suit brought by three content creators from TikTok, also blocks the download ban on the app store.

In a tweet, TikTok said it was deeply moved by the outpouring of support "from its users" who worked to safeguard their rights of expression.

Talks have been underway to finalise a preliminary agreement to take stakes in a new business, TikTok Global, that would manage U.S. operations for Walmart Inc and Oracle Corp.

The Trump administration claims that TikTok raises national security issues as China's government could access personal data collected from 100 million Americans using the app. However, TikTok disputes the claims.