Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge
The Justice Department filed its opposition Friday to TikTok’s request for an injunction against the Trump administration’s looming ban of the app, and the agency pulled no punches. The DOJ says blocking the the ban would “infringe on the President’s authority to block business-to-business economic transactions with a foreign entity in the midst of a declared national-security emergency.”
The DOJ also alleges that the CEO of TikTok’s parent company ByteDance, Zhang Yiming, is a “mouthpiece” for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and is “committed to promoting the CCP’s agenda and messaging.”
Large chunks of the DOJ filing are redacted, including a section detailing where the DOJ claims TikTok stores US users’ data. The part that’s visible claims “US user data being stored outside of the United States presents significant risks in this case.”
TikTok requested the injunction against the ban on its app in the US, which is due to take effect Sunday. The company claims a Trump administration order violates its right to due process and freedom of speech, and asked a District of Columbia judge to block a rule that would require Apple and Google to remove the app from their stores as of midnight Sunday.
President Trump originally gave ByteDance a September 15th deadline to sell the video-sharing app, then ordered app stores to ban it effective September 20th. TikTok got a last-minute reprieve after the president approved a tentative deal with Oracle last Sunday.
TikTok sued the administration last month, saying that the decision to ban it exceeded the limits of the president’s power to ban an app on national emergency grounds. The company says it has “made extraordinary efforts to try to satisfy the government’s ever-shifting demands and purported national security concerns,” including changing the company’s ownership and structure.
TikTok did not reply to a request for comment late Friday.
A hearing on the motion for a preliminary injunction is scheduled for Sunday at 9:30AM ET.