The Trump administration on Friday filed an objection to TikTok’s legal efforts to stop a ban of the Chinese owned video-sharing app that is scheduled to take effect on Sunday.
A judge in Washington has scheduled a hearing for Sunday morning.
On August 6, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order threatening to ban TikTok and WeChat, a Chinese-owned messaging app, saying the companies could be required to turn over users’ personal data to Beijing and pose a national security risk.
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TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, sued Trump, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and the Commerce Department on September 18, saying the administration had acted without due process and in violation of the First Amendment. The app owners are asking Federal District Judge Carl Nichols to issue a preliminary injunction to halt the ban.
At a hearing on Thursday, Nichols directed the Trump administration either to delay its ban or file a brief on Friday defending its position.
Government lawyers filed their response under seal on Friday afternoon, saying it included “confidential business information”. They said they would file a public redacted version after TikTok and ByteDance had looked at the document.
The legal back and forth took place as ByteDance seeks government approval for its proposed deal with Oracle Corp and Walmart for its US operations.
Last week, the Commerce Department delayed the TikTok ban until Sunday after Trump reacted positively toward the deal with Oracle.
If the ban is imposed, new US downloads of TikTok will not be allowed, but users can continue to use the app until November, when a broader ban takes effect.
TikTok’s lawsuit against the administration follows WeChat’s legal efforts to win a reprieve, preventing the restriction from taking effect on September 20.
On September 19, Federal Judge Laurel Beeler in San Francisco issued an injunction against Trump’s executive order after the US WeChat Users Alliance argued that the move violated the First Amendment’s guarantee of the freedom of speech.
Late on Thursday, Trump asked the judge to stay the injunction.
Government lawyers said: “The court’s preliminary injunction permits the continued, unfettered use of WeChat, a mobile application that the Executive Branch has determined constitutes a threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”
They added that it would allow Beijing to “surveil the American people and collect and use vast swathes of personal and proprietary information from American users to advance its own interests”.
In a separate filing on Friday, US lawyers said they would submit classified information supporting their request, including an assessment by the director of national intelligence.
Beeler has previously ruled that the government did not provide sufficient evidence of a security threat.
“While the government has established that China’s activities raise significant national security concerns, it has put in scant little evidence that its effective ban of WeChat for all US users addresses those concerns,” she wrote in her order.
WeChat hosts 19 million users in the US and more than a billion worldwide.
Additional reporting by Bloomberg
More from South China Morning Post:
- Donald Trump asks US court to let ban on Chinese app WeChat to proceed
- TikTok files suit in US court to halt download ban in opposition to Donald Trump’s demands, as does WeChat
This article Trump administration files legal objection to TikTok’s efforts to halt US ban first appeared on South China Morning Post