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Trump administration appeals yet another TikTok ruling

The Department of Justice is appealing an injunction that blocked a TikTok ban

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

The Trump administration has gained some experience losing in court recently, and has suffered setback after setback in its stance that TikTok should be banned in the US. Still, its pursuit of the video sharing app continues. On Monday, the Department of Justice filed an appeal of a judge’s order that blocked restrictions on TikTok in the US from taking effect.

US District Judge Carl Nichols issued an order December 7th that blocked the Commerce Department’s restrictions on TikTok, which would have prevented new downloads of the app from US app stores. Nichols’ order followed an October order from US District Judge Wendy Beetlestone in Pennsylvania, who issued an injunction against the ban. In that case, three content creators had argued that a TikTok ban would have a negative effect on their income. And on Monday, the DOJ appealed Nichols’ decision to the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit.

The TikTok-Trump saga began back in August, when President Trump issued an order saying the security concerns about TikTok and WeChat, both China-based apps, constituted a national emergency. He invoked the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), which allows the president to ban transactions between US and foreign entities. President Trump then issued an order August 14th giving parent company ByteDance 90 days to either sell or spin off its TikTok business in the US. That order was set to go into effect on November 12th and would have halted the app’s US operations.

On September 18th, the US Commerce Department issued an order to block downloads of the app in the US. But a day later, the president said he had approved “in concept” a bid from cloud computing giant Oracle to become TikTok’s “trusted tech partner.” That deal called for creating a new entity, TikTok Global, which would be based in the US and take over processing and storage for all US-based TikTok users.

But then the Trump administration... kind of forgot about the whole thing, it seemed. TikTok filed a petition November 10th seeking a 30-day extension of the November 12th deadline, and the company said it had received “no substantive feedback” from the Trump administration for some time. The administration gave an extension until November 27th, and again until December 4th. Then the government said it would not enforce its own deadline.

What shape the appeal will take in the waning days of a lame duck administration is still to be determined, but a US ban on the app seeks less and less likely to happen. TikTok did not immediately reply to a request for comment Monday.