U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols is the second judge to rule against the ban, which has seen delays, injunctions, and deadline pushbacks since Trump's executive order in August. In that order, national security was cited as the reason for the emergency ban, and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) was invoked.
In his opinion, Nichols wrote that the administration "likely exceeded IEEPA’s express limitations as part of an agency action that was arbitrary and capricious." His injunction prohibits the Commerce Department from putting further restrictions on TikTok in the U.S.
The latest deadline for a deal to be reached was Dec. 4, but on Friday officials said the administration would neither extend nor enforce its own deadline.
A federal judge in Pennsylvania first granted an injunction in late October. Last month, ByteDance, TikTok's Beijing-based parent company, asked a federal appeals court to vacate the order mandating it sell its U.S. operations. A proposed deal for Walmart and Oracle to be TikTok's U.S. tech partner is in limbo.
Nichols also cited the company's "unrebutted evidence that uncertainty in TikTok’s future availability has already driven, and will continue to drive, content creators and fans to other platforms." In a statement, TikTok said: "We’re focused on continuing to build TikTok as the home that 100 million Americans, including families and small businesses, rely upon for expression, connection, economic livelihood, and true joy.”
With President-elect Joe Biden taking office in a little over a month, it's not clear if he'll take up the TikTok ban, but he did express concern over the app's data collection back in September.