TikTok managed to escape getting shut down in the U.S. on Thursday—despite missing the Trump administration’s deadline to divest its U.S. operations—as the Commerce Department said that it would abide by a federal court injunction from October stopping the ban, while a federal appeals court allowed the company until December to submit documents in its case against the U.S. government.
The Commerce Department said on Thursday that it would abide by an injunction issued by a Pennsylvania federal court on October 30, noting that its attempts to block the video-sharing app will not go into effect “pending further legal developments.”
It comes as, separately, the Justice Department on Thursday filed an appeal against the federal court’s ruling, on behalf of the Trump administration.
In October, the federal court had ruled in favor of three TikTok creators who sued Trump and his administration claiming that the ban would lead to a loss of income for them.
Following a petition filed earlier this week by ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, a federal court of appeals in Washington D.C. on Thursday granted ByteDance a December 14 deadline to submit documents as part of the company’s bid asking the court to vacate the Trump administration’s order forcing TikTok’s sale.
Following the federal court ruling halting TikTok’s ban in October, the company’s interim chief expressed gratitude towards the platform’s users in a statement, saying: “We are deeply moved by the outpouring of support by our creators, who have worked to protect their rights to expression… We stand behind our community as they share their voices, and we are committed to providing a home for them to do so.”
TikTok has been targeted by the Trump administration in recent months over national security concerns that the app has denied. President Trump escalated the spat over the summer by signing an executive order threatening to ban the app in the U.S. unless it could find a U.S. buyer by November 12. As the deadline loomed, Beijing-based ByteDance filed a petition in the D.C. appeals court this week seeking a review of Trump’s order, claiming that it is unlawful and violates the company’s rights under the U.S. Constitution. ByteDance also noted that the government’s divestiture order allowed for a 30-day extension beyond the November 12 deadline, and the company had requested the same but it had not received a reply from the administration. The D.C. appeals court order now effectively provides that extension, giving ByteDance until December 14 and the U.S. government until December 28 to file motions and other documents in the case.
In September, ByteDance announced plans to sell 20% of TikTok to Oracle and Walmart as part of a pre-IPO financing round. The deal, which initially received Trump’s “blessing”, immediately ran into issues after ByteDance said it would continue to retain control of TikTok. Trump threatened to shut down the deal and ban TikTok unless ByteDance had “nothing to do with” TikTok and Oracle had “total control.” Later in the month, the Commerce Department ordered the removal of the TikTok app from smartphone app stores while it was negotiating its deal. A judge, however, overruled this order, stating that the Trump administration’s attempt to ban the app likely overstepped legal authority. According to a CNBC report, TikTok is still interested in pursuing a technology deal with Oracle even if the existing Trump divestiture order is invalidated by the courts.