Enlarge /. A booth of TikTok (Douyin) at the first Hangzhou International Artificial Products Exhibition on October 18, 2019 in Hangzhou, China.
A federal judge gave the Trump administration until Friday either to defend the proposed ban on the short-form video app TikTok in court or to hold back to add another wrinkle to the seemingly endless saga of time and time again.
Unless the government voluntarily postpones the proposed TikTok ban at 2:30 p.m. EDT on Friday, it will have to appear for a hearing on Sunday morning where it will decide on TikTok's motion for an injunction on the ban. Judge Carl Nichols of the US District Court for DC said today.
Nichols said that if the ban goes into effect, it could potentially prevent hundreds of thousands of new users a day from signing up for TikTok. "I don't think (a ban) just keeps the status quo," he said, according to the Wall Street Journal.
President Donald Trump signed an order on Aug. 6 to ban TikTok and another China-based app, WeChat. The executive order declared the apps a "national emergency" but did not specify what or how would be banned. TikTok filed a lawsuit against the administration within a week, arguing that the proposed ban was both unconstitutional and politically motivated.
TikTok filed for an injunction against the ban (PDF) on September 18, the day the administration finally made it clear what a ban would actually mean. That order will rule Nichols this Sunday, unless the government agrees to postpone the ban.
The government's ban on TikTok was originally scheduled to go into effect at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, September 20. On Saturday evening, the Commerce Department extended that deadline by a week to Sunday, September 27, after President Trump gave his conditional "blessing" on a deal between TikTok and Oracle.
However, the fate of this transaction is far from certain. Oracle and TikTok parent company ByteDance not only seem to disagree on the actual terms of the contract, but the Chinese authorities don't seem to agree.
An editorial in the state-run China Daily yesterday described the White House's efforts to force a transaction as a "dirty and devious ploy".
"What the United States did to TikTok is almost the same as a gangster forcing an unreasonable and unfair deal on a legitimate company," wrote the government-sponsored newspaper. "China has no reason to give the green light to such an agreement, which is filthy, unfair, and based on bullying and blackmail. If the US finds its way, it will continue to do so with other foreign companies The fate of the Chinese company ByteDance mean. "
It is unclear what the fate of TikTok in the US will be if the Chinese government does not approve the transaction. The president also threatens to withdraw his approval of the deal if he does not find out he is transferring control of TikTok and its assets to U.S. owners.