THE first step of Donald Trump’s controversial ban on TikTok has been halted by a federal judge at the last minute.
The temporary block has dealt a blow to the White House which sees the Chinese-owned app as a threat to national security.
The order, which was due to come into effect at 23.59pm last night, was the first stage of plans to ban TikTok throughout the US.
It would have forced Apple and Google to remove the app from their stores preventing new users from downloading it.
It would not, however, have stopped existing users from still being able to access the hit app on their devices.
U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols issued the preliminary injunction in a brief order late on Sunday at a hearing in Washington.
However, he declined "at this time" to block a second set of restrictions, due to come into effect in November, barring American companies from providing services to TikTok.
That order will make the app virtually impossible to use in the US, the tech firm has complained.
In August, President Trump revealed he was looking to ban the Chinese app -which has an estimated 800m users across the globe.
White House advisor Peter Navarro later called the social app a “national security threat”.
Following the court decision, the US Commerce Department said in a statement it "will comply with the injunction and has taken immediate steps to do so."
The statement did not specify whether the government would appeal against the judge's decision.
TikTok said it was pleased with the injunction adding it would maintain its "ongoing dialogue with the government to turn our proposal, which the president gave his preliminary approval to last week, into an agreement."
TIKTOK: A BRIEF GUIDE TO THE WORLD’S MOST DOWNLOADED APP
TikTok lets users create and share short videos with music and camera effects.
It is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, founded by the entrepreneur Zhang Yiming.
The $75billion conglomerate acquired the Musical.ly app in 2017 and merged it with TikTok, bringing millions of new users.
It is the world’s most downloaded iPhone app — with nearly 800 million downloads across the globe, according to data from mobile research firm Sensor Tower.
Facebook has taken notice of TikTok's rising popularity, and launched a competitor app called Lasso in November last year
John E. Hall, a lawyer for TikTok, argued earlier on Sunday that the ban was "unprecedented" and "irrational".
"How does it make sense to impose this app store ban tonight when there are negotiations under way that might make it unnecessary?" Hall asked during the 90-minute hearing.
"This is just punitive. This is just a blunt way to whack the company. … There is simply no urgency here."
Representatives for Chinese state media also welcomed the ruling.
"I think it is in line with morality, justice and common sense," Hu Xijin, the editor in chief of the Global Times newspaper said on Twitter on Monday.
Trump's administration contends that TikTok poses national security concerns as personal data collected on 100 million Americans who use the app could be obtained by China's government.
The Indian government has already banned 59 Chinese phone apps, including TikTok.
It said that data collected from users was being used illegally and was a threat to national security.
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