U.S. judge unsure if he has grounds to issue new TikTok injunction

A U.S. judge said on Wednesday he was uncertain if he had a legal basis to bar the U.S. Commerce Department from imposing restrictions on video-sharing app TikTok after a Pennsylvania judge had already blocked the government's plan on Friday.

Beijing-based ByteDance Ltd., the owner of TikTok, argues that the previous ruling could still be overturned on appeal.

U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols for the District of Columbia ordered both parties to file legal papers by Friday to address whether TikTok still faces "irreparable harm" from the U.S. order that Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc.'s Google app stores remove the app for download by new users.

The Trump administration contends TikTok poses national security concerns alleging the personal data of U.S. users could be obtained by China's government. TikTok denies the allegations.

Nichols said he was unsure if TikTok could demonstrate "irreparable harm" to win a new injunction.

In late September, Nichols postponed a Trump administration order that would have banned TikTok from smartphone app stores.

On Sunday, the U.S Commerce Department said on Sunday it would "comply with the injunction ... but intends to vigorously defend the (executive order) and the Secretary's implementation efforts from legal challenges," Reuters reported. 

The statement came after the ruling of U.S. District Judge Wendy Beetlestone on Friday that blocked the Commerce Department order set to take effect on November 12 that would have effectively barred ByteDance-owned TikTok from operating in the U.S.

Beetlestone enjoined the agency from barring data hosting within the U.S. for TikTok, content delivery services and other technical transactions.

Read more: Timeline: How TikTok struggled with Trump's political attacks

Talks on a deal between ByteDance, Oracle Inc. and Walmart have been ongoing to finalize a preliminary agreement for the two U.S. companies to take stakes in ByteDance's subsidiary, TikTok Global.

Under the deal, Oracle and Walmart will become TikTok's "trusted technology providers," responsible for U.S. users' data security, a measure taken to address the security concerns of the U.S. government.  

(With input from Reuters)

(Cover via CFP)