Another federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction against U.S. government restrictions that would have effectively banned TikTok from operating in the United States.
The ruling (embedded below) was made by U.S. District Court Judge Carl Nichols in a lawsuit filed by TikTok and ByteDance against President Donald Trump, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and the Commerce Department. Judge Nichols wrote the government “likely exceeded IEEPA’s [the International Emergency Economic Powers Act] express limitations as part of an agency action that was arbitrary and capricious.”
This is the second time a federal judge has issued an injunction against Trump administration restrictions that would have prevented U.S. companies, including internet hosting services, from transactions with TikTok and ByteDance. The first injunction was granted in October by U.S. District Court Judge Wendy Beetlestone, in a separate lawsuit brought against the President Trump and the U.S. Commerce Department by three TikTok creators.
Both lawsuits challenge an executive order signed by President Trump on August 7, banning transactions with ByteDance. The order cited both the IEEPA and National Emergencies Act, claiming TikTok posed a national security threat because of its ownership by a Chinese company.
In today’s ruling, Judge Nichols wrote TikTok and ByteDance are likely to succeed in their claims that Secretary Ross’ prohibitions against TikTok and ByteDance, which were originally supposed to go into effect on November 12, likely violated limits in the IEEPA and the Administrative Procedures Act.
The Commerce Department already issued a notice last month saying it will comply with Judge Beetlestone’s injunction pending further legal developments.
ByteDance is also facing a divestiture order that would force it to sell TikTok’s U.S. operations. While it has reached a proposed deal with Oracle and Walmart, ByteDance also asked the federal appeals court to vacate the order last month. On November 26, the Trump administration extended the order’s deadline to December 4, but allowed it to lapse without setting a new one.
In an email to TechCrunch, a TikTok spokesperson said, “We’re pleased that the court agreed with us and granted a preliminary injunction against all the prohibitions of the Executive Order. We’re focused on continuing to build TikTok as the home that 100 million Americans, including families and small businesses, rely upon for expression, connection, economic livelihood, and true joy.”
A U.S. Commerce Department spokesperson said, “The Department maintains that the [executive order] is fully consistent with law and promotes legitimate national security interests. The Government will continue to comply with the injunctions and has taken immediate steps to do so, but intends to vigorously defend the [executive order] and the Secretary’s implementation efforts from legal challenges.”
To keep track of the often overlapping developments in ByteDance and TikTok’s fight with the U.S. government, we have compiled a comprehensive timeline and will keep it updated.