A federal judge has delayed President Donald Trump’s impending shutdown of the popular short video app TikTok, taking the side of a Pennsylvania comedian and two other TikTok creators who say Trump’s order impedes their freedom of speech.
US District Judge Wendy Beetlestone on Friday blocked an upcoming action by the Department of Commerce that would have effectively banned TikTok in the US by shutting down essential technical services.
The Trump administration has said that TikTok is a security threat, citing the Chinese owner, ByteDance, and the possibility that the Chinese government could spy on users. Trump’s executive order was set to go into effect Nov. 12, but has now been put on hold as the lawsuit continues.
This is not the court’s first challenge against Trump’s attempted crackdown on TikTok. Another federal judge in September delayed an order from the Trump administration that banned TikTok from smartphone app stores. In that case, TikTok’s lawyers argued that the ban on the administration’s app store would violate First Amendment rights and cause irreparable harm to the company.
But Beetlestone’s case in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania was brought up not by the company, but by three of its users who have developed another app: Douglas Marland, a comedian from Pennsylvania’s Bucks County, along with fashion designer Cosette Rinab in South. California and Connecticut musician Alec Chambers.
“We are delighted that the judge has lifted this ban, which surpasses the president’s authority under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, namely parts of the law that reflect our country’s deep commitment to freedom of speech,” said their lawyer. , Ambika Kumar Doran, in a prepared statement.
The Department of Commerce and the White House did not immediately return requests for comment. The government has said it is exercising Trump’s emergency powers under the 1977 law, which allows a president to regulate international trade to address unusual threats.
TikTok said in a statement Friday that it is “deeply moved by the outpouring of support from our creators, who have worked to protect their right to expression, their careers and help small businesses, especially during the pandemic.”