U.S. Appeals Injunction Against TikTok Ban


SAN FRANCISCO — The federal government on Thursday appealed a judge’s ruling that prevented the Trump administration from imposing a ban on TikTok, the viral video app owned by the Chinese company ByteDance.

In a filing to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the Justice Department argued that a preliminary injunction issued last month by Judge Carl Nichols in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia should be lifted.

A Justice Department spokeswoman said it had no further comment beyond the appeal. TikTok declined to comment. It was not immediately clear when the court might act on the government’s appeal.

The government’s decision to appeal the injunction, which delayed TikTok from being banned in U.S. app stores, further escalates the battle between the White House and ByteDance. The move is part of a Cold War between the United States and the Chinese government.

The Chinese government has for years prevented its citizens from using international apps like Facebook, Twitter and other communications services. Since President Trump took office, he has repeatedly moved to stop Chinese companies from investing in and acquiring American companies. Citing national security concerns, the administration has also sought to stop American citizens from using Chinese-owned apps and has worked to banish Chinese technology and hardware from American telecommunications networks.

Beyond TikTok, the Trump administration has sought to block WeChat, the popular messaging app owned by Tencent. Last month, the Commerce Department moved to block American companies like Google and Apple from hosting WeChat in their app stores, as well as bar companies from hosting its data or helping to deliver content to its users.

Scrutiny of TikTok began after ByteDance bought its forerunner, Musical.ly, in 2017. American officials began scrutinizing the deal for national security concerns last year. Mr. Trump and others have since publicly said TikTok poses a threat because it collects data on Americans.

In August, Mr. Trump issued an executive order that effectively mandated that TikTok sell its U.S. operations or halt transactions in the United States. ByteDance has since negotiated a deal to create a new entity, TikTok Global, in which two American companies, Oracle and Walmart, would own a 20 percent stake. But the deal has not been completed.

After the White House forced TikTok to seek a deal to sell off the American parts of its business, the Chinese government also responded by changing some of its laws to prohibit the technology company from doing so.