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Judge rules Trump's TikTok ban likely overstepped legal authority

A federal court judge on Sunday granted TikTok's request for a temporary restraining order against a ban by the Trump administration.

Why it matters: Americans will be able to continue downloading one of the country's most popular social media and entertainment apps — at least for now.


What TikTok is saying: "We're pleased that the court agreed with our legal arguments and issued an injunction preventing the implementation of the TikTok app ban. We will continue defending our rights for the benefit of our community and employees.

  • "At the same time, we will also maintain our ongoing dialogue with the government to turn our proposal, which the President gave his preliminary approval to last weekend, into an agreement."

What the White House is saying, via a statement from the U.S. Commerce Department: “The E.O. is fully consistent with the law and promotes legitimate national security interests. 

  • "The Government will comply with the injunction and has taken immediate steps to do so, but intends to vigorously defend the E.O. and the Secretary’s implementation efforts from legal challenges."

Judge Carl Nichols on Monday unsealed his opinion, in which he concluded that the ban seeks to regulate the exchange of "informational materials" — something that's expressly exempted from the law laying out the emergency powers Trump invoked.

  • Nichols, a Trump appointee, also said it was "not plausible that the films, photos, art, or even personal information U.S. users share on TikTok fall within the plain meaning of the Espionage Act," another law Trump's order cited in setting out a national security rationale for a ban.

Here's the full text, via DocumentCloud.

Go deeper: White House pushes to uphold TikTok ban

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include material from the unsealed opinion.

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When Aileen Lee originally coined the term "unicorn" in late 2013, she was describing the 39 "U.S.-based software companies started since 2003 and valued at over $1 billion by public or private market investors."

Flashback: It got redefined in early 2015 by yours truly and Erin Griffith, in a cover story for Fortune, as any privately-held startup valued at $1 billion or more. At the time, we counted 80 of them.

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Why it matters: The changes could reduce traffic to some news publishers, particularly companies that post a lot of political content.

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