Made-in-China social video app TikTok has convinced a US judge it should remain in American app stores for the foreseeable future – dodging a ban that would have seen it expelled from Google Play and Apple's app store from midnight on Sunday US time.
A Sunday order [PDF] by justice Carl J Nichols of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia granted an injunction sought by TikTok to keep its software available for new downloads or updates.
Downloads and updates to existing installations are among the "prohibited transactions" that the Trump administration says no US business will be allowed to conduct with TikTok and Tencent's WeChat messaging service. Other prohibitions would prevent US carriers from carrying traffic to and from the apps.
TikTok last week sought an injunction against the ban on grounds that it violates constitutional rights to free speech and to petition the US government. WeChat already secured a stay of execution on similar grounds.
Justice Nichols' order doesn't explain why he decided to grant the injunction and his reasons for doing so are in a separate document that is currently sealed. His order therefore calls on the administration and TikTok to meet on Monday, US time, to read his reasoning and decide if it can be unsealed and released to the public.
The parties were also ordered to meet by Wednesday, 30 September, and "file a Joint Status Report proposing a schedule for further proceedings" and "address any other issues that they believe will be helpful to the Court".
The order isn't a huge win for TikTok because it could still lose in another court and still faces likely expulsion from the USA if the administration doesn't sign off on its deal to be acquired by Oracle, WalMart and others.
US president Donald Trump has offered not-entirely-consistent views on whether the deal should be allowed to proceed, and is now rather busy trying to secure an unusually speedy confirmation of a Supreme Court Justice, preparing for the first of three presidential debates and fending off a bombshell report of systematic tax evasion – all while managing the most severe public health crisis in a century. ®