Stung by adverse court orders and distracted by the increasingly chaotic transition of government from Donald Trump to Joe Biden, the US Commerce Department, said that it won’t enforce its earlier order to shut down TikTok in the country. As per the latest report in The Wall Street Journal, the DoC is not withdrawing the shutdown order entirely, but is putting it on hold “pending further legal developments.”
The move comes almost exactly a month and a half after a US court granted a preliminary injunction against a Trump administration order to ban the viral video-sharing app in the country. The order by US District Judge, Carl J. Nichols, was in response to a lawsuit filed by TikTok’s parent company, Bytedance. It only applied to the immediate ban that was set to go into effect September 27th but did not cover the broader set of restrictions that were set to go into effect on November 12th.
Another court order that went against the US government in this case was by District Judge Wendy Beetlestone in Philadelphia last month in a suit brought by three TikTok stars, comedian Douglas Marland, fashion guru Cosette Rinab and musician Alex Chambers. In a scathing observation regarding the US Commerce Department’s order, Judge Beetlestone said the action “presents a threat to the robust exchange of informational materials” and therefore, exceeds the government’s authority under federal laws.
So after all the controversies over the past several months, TikTok is still available to download in the US, unlike in India. While the ban was originally slated to go into effect September 18th, the US Commerce Department delayed it by a week to let ByteDance and Oracle sort out the nitty-gritty of the latter’s proposed takeover of TikTok’s US operations, before being postponed further because of adverse court rulings, etc. It will be interesting to see how things go in the coming days in what seems like an ever-evolving saga.