The Clock Keeps TikTok-ing

And more on the upcoming U.S. elections

I’m Scott Nover. Welcome back to Pressing, a newsletter about press freedom. If you haven’t yet subscribed, you can do so here and receive this letter in your inbox every Tuesday morning.

This is the 53rd issue of Pressing and it’s great to have you with me. Please send me feedback, thoughts, suggestions, and tips at sgnover@gmail.com.

The Clock Keeps TikTok-ing

In what I view as a crucial First Amendment case, the popular social media app TikTok won a significant reprieve this weekend.

On Sunday, a federal judge in Washington, D.C. granted a preliminary injunction against part of a Trump administration executive order, delaying a ban on new app downloads from going into effect at midnight Monday.

In reviewing the app download ban, which would’ve compelled Apple and Google to drop TikTok from their respective app marketplaces, the judge didn’t weigh in on the First Amendment free speech or Fifth Amendment due process claims. Rather, he found TikTok demonstrated "likelihood of success on the merits" of its claims that Trump "exceed the lawful bounds proscribed by IEEPA," an emergency economic powers law.

Last week, a federal judge in San Francisco granted a similar preliminary injunction on Trump’s ban of WeChat, a messaging app that’s one of the sole technologies connecting Americans to those in mainland China. In this case, the judge did weigh in on free speech claims, saying there were likely First Amendment violations for WeChat users who depend on the app.

Ultimately, the implications of the TikTok ruling are simple: Users can continue to download the app, and it affords ByteDance, the app’s owners, more time to complete a deal to spin the company off and abide by government orders.

As I’ve written before in this newsletter, open internet is a free speech issue. Surely data privacy and national security issues are crucial in our advanced society, but severe actions by governments to limit important communications technologies should be justified and allegations should be proven. Otherwise, we’ll end up with an internet where only companies favorable to the United States government are allowed to fully and freely operate.


A Note About Pressing

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This newsletter started when I was a freelancer and has evolved. I now have a full-time reporting job and life has become much more complicated during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Last November, I turned on the paid feature on Substack, originally charging readers a fee if they wanted access to even more writing about press freedom. Since the spring, I’ve lost any ability to do that—in fact, the free version of the newsletter (which you’re reading) has become more like a biweekly endeavor.

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That is all. Let me know if you have any questions. And, above all, thank you for reading! - Scott


Ahead of the Election

Since the U.S. elections are nearing, I think it’s important that we pay close attention to it. The very fact that President Donald Trump refuses to commit to a peaceful transition of power, should he lose, should raise alarm bells for every American. This is an issue foundational to our democratic republic. It’s also a huge story.

No one told that story better than The Atlantic’s Barton Gellman. In Gellman’s cover story, “The Election That Could Break America,” he explores the intricacies through which Trump refusing to concede could bring the country to the brink of a constitutional crisis. It’s a must-read for every journalist and citizen.

What else is going on in Trumpland ahead of the election?


Across the Country

Around the World

From the Opinion Pages

In Technology

Student Media


Thanks for reading Pressing today and always. Like what you read and want to support me? Consider donating via a paid subscription here. I’ll see you next Tuesday! Send tips and feedback to sgnover@gmail.com.