Judge prepares ruling after hearing on Trump TikTok download ban

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A federal judge listened to arguments in a rare Sunday hearing ahead of making a crucial decision on whether to allow or block a Trump administration ban on downloads of the popular video-sharing app TikTok.

District Judge Carl Nichols, who has promised to rule on a TikTok request to block the president’s order before it takes effect at 11:59 pm Sunday (0359 GMT Monday), heard arguments on the free-speech and national security implications of the Trump ban on the Chinese-owned app.

TikTok lawyer John Hall said a ban would be “punitive” and close off a public forum used by tens of millions of Americans.

In a written brief ahead of the hearing, TikTok lawyers said the ban was “arbitrary and capricious” and “would undermine data security” by blocking updates and fixes to the app used by some 100 million Americans.

The company also said the ban was unnecessary because negotiations were already underway to restructure the ownership of TiKTok to address national security issues raised by the administration.

TikTok said the ban is not simply a business restriction but would “prohibit core constitutionally protected speech: videos composed by millions of Americans containing a vast array of individual expression, ranging from art to political speech.”

Government lawyers argued the president has a right to take national security actions, and said the ban was needed because of TikTok’s links to the Chinese government through its parent firm ByteDance.

A government brief called ByteDance “a mouthpiece” for the Chinese Communist Party and “committed to promoting the CCP’s agenda and messaging.”

“The president determined that (China’s) ability to control this data presented an unacceptable threat to the United States’ national security and foreign policy,” the government argued in its filing.

TikTok filed the case in response to Trump order, saying even a temporary ban

Judge set to rule on Trump TikTok download ban

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A judge was set to rule Sunday on whether to allow a Trump administration ban on downloads of popular video-sharing app TikTok, which is seeking an injunction to prevent what it said could be a devastating blow.

US District Judge Carl Nichols has promised to consider on an expedited basis the TikTok request to block the president’s order before it takes effect at 11:59 pm Sunday (0359 GMT Monday).

The judge in the US capital was reviewing Trump administration claims that Chinese-owned TikTok posed a national security threat, along with the company’s denials and its claims that even a temporary ban could do irreparable harm.

US Justice Department and TikTok lawyers agreed to file briefs “under seal,” unavailable for public viewing, to avoid disclosing national security and confidential business information.

TikTok, which is owned by China’s ByteDance, said in its initial petition that even a temporary ban would “inflict devastating and irreparable harm” on the service.

“Until the administration’s intervention, TikTok was one of the fastest growing apps in the United States, and its continued rapid growth is necessary to maintain its competitive market position,” TikTok argued.

TikTok has an estimated 100 million users in the United States and 700 million worldwide, making it one of the largest in the social media space.

A ban would not only lead to lost revenue but also inflict “extraordinary harm to (TikTok’s) reputation and goodwill, making it unlikely that these relationships could be salvaged even if the ban is later lifted,” company lawyers argued.

A ban “will cause our user base to stagnate and then precipitously decline,” interim TikTok head Vanessa Pappas said.

She noted that until July 1, when rumors of a ban began circulating, TikTok was adding some 424,000 new US users each day.

The TikTok petition also speculated that Trump