TikTok Sues Biden Admin Over Potential Ban

(REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes)

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Will Kessler Contributor
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TikTok and its China-based parent company sued the Biden administration Tuesday over a recently signed bill that would force ByteDance to sell the app or potentially face a blanket ban in the U.S.

China-based ByteDance is suing the U.S. government on grounds that the Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act is unconstitutional because it would constitute a violation of free speech under the First Amendment. President Joe Biden signed the bill that would force ByteDance to sell TikTok or be banned in the U.S. in April amid concerns that the social media app is a national security risk due to its connection to the Chinese Communist Party. (RELATED: Disney’s Stock Plummets As Market Grapples With Earnings Report)

“Congress has taken the unprecedented step of expressly singling out and banning TikTok: a vibrant online forum for protected speech and expression used by 170 million Americans to create, share, and view videos over the Internet,” the lawsuit states. “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.”

ByteDance argues that the bill constitutes a complete ban because the company claims that it is not commercially, technologically or legally possible to sell its business before the cutoff date of Jan. 19, 2025. The suit also argues that the bill does not articulate any national security threat posed by TikTok that would merit it being singled out, saying that the company has operated in the U.S. since 2017 without incurring issues.

TikTok has been under strict scrutiny in recent years due to concerns that the company could be giving access to Americans’ information to the Chinese government, as it has a China-based parent company. Evan Turner, a former senior data scientist who worked for TikTok in 2022, alleges that while at the company, he was directed to work on a project that gave Americans’ data to China.

Some lawmakers have called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate TikTok for allegedly using children to lobby against the bill potentially banning the app. TikTok allegedly sent “intrusive and deceptive pop-up messages” to a large number of users, encouraging them to speak out against the bill.

“Banning TikTok is so obviously unconstitutional, in fact, that even the Act’s sponsors recognized that reality, and therefore have tried mightily to depict the law not as a ban at all, but merely a regulation of TikTok’s ownership,” the suit states.

The Department of Justice declined to comment. TikTok didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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