On October 2, 2020, the U.S. Department of Commerce published a notice in the Federal Register informing the public that on September 27, 2020, the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia granted a nationwide preliminary injunction against implementation of President Donald Trump’s August 6, 2020 Executive Order against TikTok declaring it a national security threat and directing Commerce to define the scope of prohibited “transactions” with TikTok. Chinese social media app WeChat was separately granted a similar injunction by a federal judge on September 18, 2020, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against implementation of a similar August 6, 2020 Executive Order against WeChat. On September 24, 2020, pursuant to the executive order against TikTok, Commerce identified six categories of prohibited transactions with ByteDance Ltd. and its subsidiaries including TikTok, Inc. This included one category of prohibited transactions scheduled to take effect on September 27, 2020. Pursuant to the injunction order, however, the prohibitions are no longer effective until further notice from the D.C. Court.
Specifically, the following transactions with ByteDance Ltd. and its subsidiaries including TikTok, Inc. previously identified by Commerce are not yet prohibited:
Any provision of services to distribute or maintain the TikTok mobile application, constituent code, or application updates through an online mobile application store, or any online marketplace where mobile users within the land or maritime borders of the United States and its territories may download or update applications for use on their mobile devices.
As of September 27, 2020, the preliminary injunctions enjoin Commerce and the Trump administration from implementing these category of restrictions.
Importantly, the other five categories of prohibited transactions identified by Commerce on September 24, 2020, are not covered by the preliminary injunction and will become effective on November 12, 2020. In its Memorandum Opinion, the D.C. Court made clear that the injunction was limited to this one category of transactions identified by Commerce and scheduled to be prohibited on September 27, 2020. For more information on recent legal activity involving Commerce, TikTok and WeChat, see SmarTrade updates dated September 22, 2020 and September 24, 2020.