September 29, 2020

TikTok sues US government to challenge President Trump’s ban

The company says the administration has ignored its various attempts to show it's not a national security threat.

Tiktok on the Google Play Store.

  • TikTok is filing a lawsuit against the US government to try and stop President Trump’s forthcoming ban.
  • The company says the administration has ignored its various efforts to prove it’s not a national security threat.

With its future in the US at stake, TikTok will file a lawsuit against the United States to challenge President Donald Trump’s proposed ban on the platform. The company says the president signed his August 6 executive order “without any evidence to justify such an extreme action, and without any due process.�

As you might imagine, TikTok says it strongly disagrees with the suggestion that it’s a threat to US national security. The company also feels the administration has consistently ignored its attempts to address those concerns.

Those efforts include storing the data of US users outside of China, on servers in America and Singapore. The company also points to “software barriers� that keep the data of TikTok users separate from those of ByteDance’s other apps and platforms. It’s worth noting here that ByteDance — TikTok’s Bejing-based parent company — also operates Douyin, which is effectively the Chinese version of TikTok. The two are separate apps that are only available to download in their respective markets. TikTok also notes most of its key personnel, including its CEO and chief security officer, are Americans based in the US, making them not subject to Chinese laws.

TikTok sues US government

Most notably, TikTok accuses Trump of misusing the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. The law allows the president to impose limits on commerce during a national emergency. Trump invoked the act in 2019 to limit the ability of Chinese telecommunications companies such as Huawei to operate in the US.

See also: The best TikTok alternatives for Android

Ultimately, TikTok says it prefers constructive dialogue over legal action, but it feels like it has no other option at this point. “With the Executive Order threatening to bring a ban on our US operations — eliminating the creation of 10,000 American jobs and irreparably harming the millions of Americans who turn to this app for entertainment, connection, and legitimate livelihoods that are vital especially during the pandemic — we simply have no choice,� TikTok said.

It’s not clear how successful TikTok will be in its lawsuit. The company has the unenviable task of convincing a court that President Trump’s executive action doesn’t have legal merit while at the same time downplaying any national concerns, whether real or imagined. President Trump issued an ultimatum to ByteDance earlier this month when he said the company had to sell its US operations to an American firm such as Microsoft or close on September 15. A separate executive order the president signed on the same day targets WeChat and parent company Tencent. The latter holds stakes in a variety of US companies, including Epic and Riot Games.