by Thomas Catenacci
A federal judge blocked the Department of Commerce’s proposed restrictions on Chinese-owned social media app TikTok in an order Monday evening.
U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols’s order is the latest setback in the Trump administration’s attempt to effectively ban TikTok from the U.S. over national security concerns, according to Reuters. Nichols is the second federal judge to block the Department of Commerce’s TikTok restrictions after Judge Wendy Beetlestone blocked them on Oct. 30.
“[TikTok] demonstrated that the Secretary likely overstepped [International Emergency Economic Powers Act] and acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner by failing to consider obvious alternatives,” Nichols wrote in the order published by TechCrunch.
President Donald Trump invoked the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) in a May 2019 executive order and declared a national emergency over the cybersecurity threat to U.S. national security posed by foreign powers via technology companies. The IEEPA, a law enacted in 1977, broadly authorizes the president to regulate certain economic transactions after declaring a national emergency, according to the Congressional Research Service.
TikTok said it was “pleased” with Nichols’ Monday ruling in a statement, according to Reuters.
On Aug. 14, Trump signed an executive order giving TikTok’s parent company ByteDance until Nov. 12 to divest from its U.S. operations. However, the Commerce Department extended the deadline citing Beetlestone’s October ruling.
TikTok agreed to a tentative deal to hand its operations over to tech giant Oracle and Walmart on Sept. 19, the companies announced in a statement. Trump gave his blessing to the deal once it was announced, according to CNBC.
As part of the agreement, TikTok would establish a new company TikTok Global, which would be based in the U.S., majority owned by U.S. investors and use Oracle’s American cloud infrastructure, according to the companies’ statement.
The Commerce Department and TikTok did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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Thomas Catenacci is a reporter for the Daily Caller News Foundation.