Biden Administration Reviewing Trump's Stalled TikTok Ban

Tiktok app - Getty - H 2020
LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden Administration wants to pause the court battle with TikTok it inherited from Donald Trump's DOJ.

TikTok sued after Trump issued an Aug. 6 executive order that would bar "any transaction by any person" with its Beijing-based parent company, ByteDance, or any of its subsidiaries. The order cited concerns about national security, corporate espionage and censorship and relied upon authority granted by the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

TikTok argued the ban exceeded presidential authority, violated users' First Amendment rights and flouted the Administrative Procedures Act because it's arbitrary and capricious. U.S. District Judge Carl J. Nichols granted TikTok's injunction, finding the government was acting outside its authority, the social video app is likely to succeed on the merits of its claims, and it would suffer irreparable harm if the ban were to take effect.

In a joint status report filed Thursday, the parties informed Nichols that the new administration is looking into the underlying issues, which could narrow or end the dispute, and asked him to stay proceedings for 60 days so it has a chance to get up to speed.

"As the Biden Administration has taken office, the Department of Commerce has begun a review of certain recently issued agency actions, including the Secretary’s prohibitions regarding the TikTok mobile application at issue in this case," states the filing. "In relation to those prohibitions, the Department plans to conduct an evaluation of the underlying record justifying those prohibitions. The government will then be better positioned to determine whether the national security threat described in the President’s August 6, 2020 Executive Order, and the regulatory purpose of protecting the security of Americans and their data, continue to warrant the identified prohibitions. The Department of Commerce remains committed to a robust defense of national security as well as ensuring the viability of our economy and preserving individual rights and data privacy."

The government is also asking the D.C. Circuit to pause the appeal of Nichols' decision, which TikTok did not oppose.