Home News TikTok sues U.S. to block proposed ban of popular social media app

TikTok sues U.S. to block proposed ban of popular social media app

TikTok sued the U.S. government Tuesday to prevent it from forcing the sale of the wildly popular social media app.

The platform, which has more than 1.7 billion users worldwide, and its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, said in legal papers that a newly enacted law that orders it to be sold or shut down violates its First Amendment right to free speech.

“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,” the company said in a 67-page legal filing in Washington D.C. federal court.

TikTok asserted it would be impossible for it to sell the app before the January 2025 deadline named in the law, which President Biden signed last month.

“There is no question: The act will force a shutdown of TikTok,” it said.

The bill orders the app to be sold within nine months or a year at the most if an extension is granted. If ByteDance does not sell TikTok, American online marketplaces would be barred from permitting downloads of the app, which amounts to a ban.

Lawmakers from both parties say TikTok poses a potential national security risk because the Chinese government could gain access to user data. They also believe the app stokes harmful political and social divisions in American society.

Supporters of the app say the government shouldn’t ban a platform that up to 100 million Americans use for business and to communicate with one another.

They dismiss national security worries, saying China and other rivals already mine user data in myriad ways.

The bill’s backers frame the measure as a necessary regulation of TikTok and stress that ByteDance is free to sell the app.

TikTok and ByteDance counters in the lawsuit that they really aren’t being given a choice. They say there is no practical way to sell the app’s U.S. site without also selling the underlying algorithm that powers it, which would devalue the app’s global reach.

“The ‘qualified divestiture’ demanded by the Act to allow TikTok to continue operating in the United States is simply not possible: not commercially, not technologically, not legally,” the suit says.

The suit was filed in a federal district court in Washington D.C. Some legal observers believe the case could eventually reach the Supreme Court.

The fight over TikTok takes place against a background of heightened strategic economic and geopolitical rivalry between the U.S. and China, especially in an American election year where leaders of both parties want to portray themselves as tough on Beijing.

The two superpowers are particularly focused on winning a global edge in the fields of advanced technologies and data security, seen as essential to both nations’ economic prowess and security.


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