By ANNE D’INNOCENZIO and MATT O’BRIEN, AP Business Writers
NEW YORK (AP) — Lawyers for TikTok pleaded with a U.S. federal judge on Sunday to delay the Trump Administration’s ban of the popular video sharing program from app stores set to take effect at the end of the day, arguing the move would infringe on First Amendment rights and do irreparable harm to the business.
The 90-minute hearing came after President Donald Trump declared this summer that TikTok was a threat to national security and that it either sold its U.S. operations to U.S. companies or the app would be barred from the country.
TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, is scrambling to firm up a deal tentatively struck a week ago in which it would partner with tech company Oracle and retailer Walmart and that would get the blessing of the Chinese and American governments. In the meantime, it is fighting to keep the app available in the U.S.
The ban on new downloads of TikTok, which has about 100 million users in the U.S, was delayed once by the government. A more comprehensive ban is scheduled for November, about a week after the presidential election. Judge Carl Nichols of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said he would make a decision by late Sunday, leaving TikTok’s fate hanging.
In arguments to Judge Nichols, TikTok lawyer John Hall said that TikTok is more than an app but rather is a “modern day version of a town square.”
“If that prohibition goes into effect at midnight, the consequences immediately are grave,'” Hall said. “It would be no different than the government locking the doors to a public forum, roping off that town square” at a time when a free exchange of ideas is necessary heading into a