The TikTok logo is pictured outside the companys U.S. head office in Culver City, California, US, Sept. 15, 2020. (Reuters photo)
A judge in the US state of Pennsylvania has blocked an order from the administration of President Donald Trump that would have effectively barred Chinese-owned popular video-sharing app TikTok from operating in America next month.
US District Court Judge Wendy Beetlestone on Friday instructed the Commerce Department from barring data hosting within the United States for TikTok, content delivery services and other technical transactions.
The Commerce Department order was set to take effect on November 12. Judge Beetlestone said the order would "have the effect of shutting down, within the United States, a platform for expressive activity used by approximately 700 million individuals globally. Over 100 million of these TikTok users are within the United States, and at least 50 million of these US users use the app on a daily basis."
The Commerce Department acknowledged the restrictions would "significantly reduce the functionality and usability of the app in the United States" and "may ultimately make the application less effective."
On September 27, District Judge Carl Nichols in Washington temporarily blocked an order by the Trump administration to bar Apple Inc AAPL.O and Alphabet Incs Google GOOGL.O from offering TikTok for download.
Nichols blocked the order and granted a preliminary injunction TikTok owner ByteDance sought to allow the app to remain available at US app stores.
The judge, however, declined "at this time" to block further Commerce Department restrictions that were set to take effect on November 12.
The restrictions on technical and business arrangements would have the impact of making the app impossible to use in the United States, TikTok has said.
The Trump administration previously sought to force Chinas ByteDance to hand over TikToks US operations to an American firm, namely, Microsoft.
The US has long been using national security concerns as an excuse to impose a ban on Chinese communication apps and technologies.
It has already targeted Chinese tech companies, including telecom giant Huawei, over allegations of security threats.
The new development comes at a time when negotiations are being held to hammer out a deal for Walmart Inc. and Oracle Corp. to take stakes in a new company, TikTok Global, that would supervise US operations.
Despite Trump saying he has given the deal his "blessing," its key terms, including who will have majority ownership, are still in dispute, with ByteDance saying that any deal will have to be approved by China.
Meanwhile, Beijing has revised its list of technologies subject to export bans, which gives it a say over any TikTok agreement.