TikTok will be gone from app stores tomorrow morning unless a federal judge blocks the Trump administration's app ban before midnight.
Judge Carl Nichols of the U.S. District Court for DC said today that he will decide whether to approve or deny TikTok's application for a restraining order on the ban before the 12 p.m. deadline expires.
In a hearing on Thursday, Nichols gave the administration until Friday afternoon to postpone or defend the ban. The administration has decided to submit a response in defense of the ban, but under seal so that the submissions are not available to the public.
The judge has scheduled a hearing on the matter at 9:30 a.m. today. After spending more than 90 minutes on Sunday morning listening to lawyers on both sides, Nichols said he would rule later in the day.
During the hearing, a lawyer representing TikTok called the proposed ban "irrational" and "unprecedented" and asked, "How does it make sense to impose this App Store ban tonight when negotiations are underway that make it unnecessary could? "
President Donald Trump banned TikTok and another China-based app, WeChat, in two executive orders he signed on Aug. 6. The Executive Orders declared the apps a "national emergency" and said that certain "transactions" would be banned. However, it wasn't until September 18, about 48 hours before the bans were scheduled to take effect, that the orders specified what these transactions might look like.
TikTok filed its application for a restraining order (PDF) a few hours after the trading department described what the ban would look like. Last weekend, the government granted a one-week grace period on the ban and extended the period to midnight (EDT) after the president gave his conditional "blessing" to a proposed deal between TikTok and Oracle.
The proposed ban would be unnecessary if China, the U.S. Treasury Department and the White House agreed to approve Oracle's proposed investment in TikTok. Oracle is not offering to buy TikTok as part of this deal, but would instead take over cloud hosting services as TikTok's "trusted technology partner" and acquire a 12.5 percent stake in a newly formed spin-off company, TikTok Global, take.
However, the fate of this transaction is very unknown. Oracle and ByteDance appear to disagree on who will hold majority control of the new company once the proposed deal is closed. Trump has threatened to withdraw his consent if he fails to discover that U.S. and non-Chinese investors have adequate control over TikTok. Editorials of several state-run Chinese media outlets last week also spoke out against the transaction, calling it a "dirty and devious ploy".