Executive Orders on Pause: WeChat and TikTok Bans Temporarily Suspended

Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP
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On Saturday, two actions put a stop, at least temporarily, to the U.S. shutdown of the popular social media apps WeChat and TikTok.

WeChat

On September 19, 2020, a California Federal Magistrate Judge issued a nationwide injunction on the implementation of Executive Order 13942: an EO that could effectively block WeChat in the United States. The court’s order states that the plaintiffs in the case, a group of WeChat users, have established the elements for preliminary-injunctive relief with respect to their First Amendment claims.

However, the judge specifically states that neither plaintiffs’ claim questioning whether the EO and related regulations are outside the scope of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act appears to have sufficient merit. In short, the power IEEPA grants the U.S. Government appears unaffected by this challenge. We expect the U.S. Government to challenge the injunction order.

TikTok

Separately, the U.S. Commerce Department issued a brief statement that it will delay the prohibition of identified transactions pursuant to Executive Order 13942, related to the TikTok mobile application, until September 27, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. That order appears to be predicated on the successful discussions between TikTok’s Chinese Parent, ByteDance, and the a group U.S.-company buyers who would take a larger equity share of TikTok’s operations in the United States.

We expect rapid development in both of these matters and will report here as the situation unfolds.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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