Federal Judge Blocks Tiktok Ban in a Lawsuit Bought by Tiktok Creators

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The Court’s Order followed the suit by three influencers on TikTok. The second TikTok ban was to take effect on November 12. It had been blocked by a Federal Judge in Pennsylvania. 

Background 

On May 15, 2019, Donald Trump in his official capacity as President of the United States, issued Executive Order 13873 (the “ICTS Executive Order”), which declared a national emergency under the international emergency economic powers act( IEEPA) and the National Emergencies Act. This Order was with respect to the threat posed by foreign adversaries to the United States’ information and communications technology and services. Citing the ICTS Executive Order and pursuant to his authority under IEEPA, President Trump issued Executive Order 13942 (the “TikTok Executive Order”) on August 6, 2020. The order addressed the threat posed by TikTok. In addition, it also claimed to take additional steps to address the National Emergency with respect to the Information and Communications Technology and Services Supply Chain. The executive order was specific to TikTok and the country of its origination. President Trump identified a risk that the People’s Republic of China (the “PRC”) and the Chinese Communist Party (the “CCP”) could use TikTok to “access . . . Americans’ personal information for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage.” This was the main reasoning given in order to ban the use of this application. Owing to this order, TikTok was to be banned from November 12, 2020. 

Plaintiff’s Arguments

Plaintiffs also rely on TikTok to earn a living. The app has over 700 million users globally and over 100 million users in the United States alone. Fifty million of these U.S. users use the app on a daily basis. This large audience gave content creators like Plaintiffs the opportunity to profit from the videos they post on TikTok.

A preliminary injunction is an extraordinary remedy; it “should be granted only in limited circumstances.” A Plaintiff seeking a preliminary injunction must establish that he is likely to succeed on the merits, that he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, that the balance of equities tips in his favour, and that an injunction is in the public interest. In the present case, the three Plaintiffs succeeded in showing this cause. 

Court’s Opinion 

Judge Wendy Beetlestone gave her opinion that the postponement of the ban was the only way to protect the interests of the Plaintiffs. The aspect of these three creators representing millions of TikTok users and followers was considered.

Court’s Decision 

The Court decided that the ban should be postponed throughout the United States of America therefore, effectively avoiding the ban set to take effect on November 12th, 2020. 

Implications

In a similar case in Washington DC, the ban was halted by the Judge which would effectively remove the app from the app stores, this decision was immediately appealed by the Justice Department. The Justice Department has not appealed the present ruling and the injunction that was granted nor has it responded.


 

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