TikTok pushes back on Trump in court while angling for deal

BEIJING • TikTok’s Chinese owner asked a federal judge to stop US President Donald Trump from enforcing a ban that would remove the viral video-sharing network from US app stores this weekend.

ByteDance Ltd filed on Wednesday for a temporary block on the ban even as it continues to pursue approvals from the Trump administration for a sale of its US operations to Oracle Corp and Walmart Inc.

The Chinese company asked the Washington court to set a hearing before the rules take effect at 11:59pm on Sept 27 and proposed that both sides file additional briefs this week.

ByteDance’s request deploys many of the same arguments a group of WeChat users made to win their own preliminary injunction last weekend against a similar ban. Both TikTok and WeChat, owned by China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd, have been labelled national security threats

by the Trump administration, which is seeking to stop their use in the US — or, in TikTok’s case, force a sale to US companies — on the grounds they could allow China’s government to gain access to personal data from millions of Americans.

The TikTok ban, proclaimed in an Aug 6 executive order by the president, is part of a wider effort by the Trump administration to take a hard line against Beijing, betting that a tough approach will help win the president re-election. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo has urged US companies to bar Chinese applications as part of his “Clean Network” guidance.

ByteDance also needs China’s approval to proceed with the deal. The company submitted an application this week, though it’s unclear how long Beijing’s review will take.

ByteDance’s preliminary-injunction request challenges new Commerce Department rules that would remove TikTok from app stores and

require changes to the viral net- work’s core functionality that the company said would effectively shut it down in the US by mid- November.

Filing in response, the US said “there is no need for the parties (or for this court) to conduct emergency proceedings and wade into sensitive issues of national security and foreign policy on the basis of a limited record prepared on an extremely short time frame”.

Justice Department spokeswoman Mollie Timmons declined to comment on whether the department would challenge the injunction. The Commerce Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

ByteDance argues that the Tik- Tok ban exceeds the Trump administration’s legal authority. Its filing echoes a number of the arguments made by WeChat, which said a ban would infringe on its First Amendment rights and cause irreparable harm to the company. — Bloomberg