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US-China tensions

US will 'vigorously defend' TikTok executive order despite ruling

Commerce Department responds to judge's block of Nov. 12 ban on Chinese video app

 TikTok has come under fire in the U.S. due to concerns about user privacy.   © Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- The U.S. Commerce Department said on Sunday it would "vigorously defend" an executive order that seeks to bar transactions with Chinese-owned short video-sharing app TikTok after a federal judge halted the action.

U.S. District Judge Wendy Beetlestone on Friday blocked the Commerce Department order set to take effect on Nov. 12 that would have effectively barred ByteDance-owned TikTok from operating in the United States.

The Commerce Department said on Sunday it would "comply with the injunction ... but intends to vigorously defend the (executive order) and the Secretary's implementation efforts from legal challenges."

Beetlestone enjoined the agency from barring data hosting within the United States for TikTok, content delivery services and other technical transactions.

President Donald Trump's administration contends that TikTok poses national security concerns as personal data collected on 100 million Americans who use the app could be obtained by China's government. TikTok denies the allegations.

Beetlestone wrote that the "government's own descriptions of the national security threat posed by the TikTok app are phrased in the hypothetical."

On Sept. 27, U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols in Washington issued a preliminary injunction in a suit brought by ByteDance that stopped the Commerce Department from ordering Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc.'s Google app stores to remove TikTok for download by new users. That order had been set to take effect later that day.

Nichols is set to hold a hearing on Wednesday on the other aspects of the Commerce Department order that Beetlestone blocked on Friday.

Beetlestone's order, in a suit brought by three TikTok content creators, also blocks the app store download ban.

Talks have been ongoing to finalize a preliminary deal for Walmart Inc. and Oracle Corp. to take stakes in a new company, TikTok Global, that would oversee U.S. operations. Trump said last month the deal had his "blessing."

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