TikTok asks judge to block Trump ban

TikTok is asking a federal judge to block the Trump administration’s impending ban on its operations in the United States.

The company filed for a preliminary injunction in the District of Columbia on Wednesday to keep the app in U.S. app stores while negotiations over the company’s future are in limbo.

The ban, which is set to go into effect just before midnight Sept. 27, would cause TikTok “irreparable harm,” Vanessa Pappas, the company’s interim head executive, said in its filing.

President Donald Trump on Saturday said he had given his “blessing” to a deal struck by TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, and Oracle and Walmart, which would avert a ban announced by the Department of Commerce last week. But that deal is still subject to some negotiations, leaving TikTok with the ban still looming.

Pappas also predicted that TikTok could lose up to half of its user base if the service were banned for just two months, and anywhere between 80 and 90 percent if the ban stayed in place for six months. TikTok claims more than 100 million users in the U.S.

She also said 52 candidates who were offered jobs at the company have declined due to the threat of a ban, and that a dozen brands have delayed or canceled advertising, resulting in $10 million in lost revenue for the month of August.

Both the U.S. and China are considering whether or not to approve a deal that would give Oracle and Walmart minority stakes in the company and move its headquarters to the U.S.

Oracle, which would serve as TikTok’s cloud services partner and be responsible for U.S. user data, has said the deal would make TikTok a U.S.-based company with majority-American ownership.

ByteDance describes the deal differently: TikTok Global would be its “U.S. subsidiary,” it has said, and ByteDance would still have 80 percent ownership.

In either scenario, ByteDance would maintain control of the company’s most valuable software — a sticking point for U.S. officials who remain concerned about China’s ability to use the app to access American users’ data and censor content.

China, too, has indicated that it might oppose the deal. On Tuesday, a state-backed paper said Beijing is unlikely to approve what it described as an “unfair” deal with Oracle and Walmart.

In seeking an injunction, TikTok said it had “made extraordinary efforts to try to satisfy the government’s ever-shifting demands and purported national security concerns.”

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