TikTok sues US government over ban

Source: The Verge

TikTok is suing the US government over the new law that would force the shortform video app to be divested from its China-based parent company ByteDance or face a ban in the US. 

In a court filing submitted Tuesday, TikTok said Congress has “taken the unprecedented step of expressly singling out and banning TikTok” and calls the move “unconstitutional.”

The complaint argues that a sale from ByteDance isn’t possible and that the law would “force a shutdown” by January 19th, 2025.

“For the first time in history, Congress has enacted a law that subjects a single, named speech platform to a permanent, nationwide ban, and bars every American from participating in a unique online community with more than 1 billion people worldwide,” the lawsuit reads.

Last month, President Joe Biden signed a law giving ByteDance nine months to divest TikTok or cease operations in the US, citing national security concerns. However, the complaint alleges that the government has yet to provide evidence of the Chinese government misusing TikTok.

“Even the statements by individual Members of Congress and a congressional committee report merely indicate concern about the hypothetical possibility that TikTok could be misused in the future, without citing specific evidence — even though the platform has operated prominently in the United States since it was first launched in 2017,” the lawsuit states.

TikTok argues that a ban in the US wouldn’t be feasible, as it would force TikTok to move “millions of lines” of software code from ByteDance to a new owner. It adds that limitations from the Chinese government would not allow the sale of TikTok with its algorithm. TikTok claims the ban would make the US version of its app an “island” that gives Americans a “detached experience” from the rest of its users while undermining its business.

When the US attempted to ban TikTok ban during the Trump administration, the company considered spinning off its US operations in partnerships with American companies such as Walmart, Microsoft, and Oracle. But those deals never came to fruition. It has also tried to win favor with the government by housing US user data in Oracle’s servers, but a recent report from Fortune suggests this move was “largely cosmetic.”

TikTok is asking the court to hand down a judgment that says the Biden administration’s law violates the US Constitution. It also wants an order preventing the attorney general from enforcing the law.

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