ByteDance to File Legal Suit to Block Potential US Ban

ByteDance to File Legal Suit to Block Potential US Ban
Photo: Getty Images 08.05.2024 428

The Chinese company argues that the law banning TikTok violates the U.S. Constitution.

TikTok and its Chinese parent company ByteDance sued in U.S. federal court on Tuesday seeking to block a law signed by President Joe Biden that would force the divestiture of the short video app used by 170 million Americans or ban it.

The companies filed their lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, arguing that the law violates the U.S. Constitution on a number of grounds including running afoul of First Amendment free speech protections. The law, signed by Biden on April 24, gives ByteDance until Jan. 19 to sell TikTok or face a ban.

The lawsuit said the divestiture "is simply not possible: not commercially, not technologically, not legally. ... There is no question: the Act (law) will force a shutdown of TikTok by January 19, 2025, silencing the 170 million Americans who use the platform to communicate in ways that cannot be replicated elsewhere."

According to the suit, 58% of ByteDance is owned by global institutional investors including BlackRock, General Atlantic and Susquehanna International Group, 21% owned by the company's Chinese founder and 21% owned by employees - including about 7,000 Americans.

TikTok has spent $2 billion to implement measures to protect the data of U.S. users and made additional commitments in a 90-page draft National Security Agreement developed through negotiations with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), according to the lawsuit. That pact included TikTok agreeing to a "shut-down option" that would give the U.S. government the authority to suspend TikTok in the United States if it violates some obligations, according to the suit.

To move the TikTok source code to the United States "would take years for an entirely new set of engineers to gain sufficient familiarity," according to the lawsuit.

The four-year battle over TikTok is a significant front in the ongoing conflict over the internet and technology between the United States and China. In April, Apple said China had ordered it to remove WhatsApp and Threads (owned by Meta, banned and designated as extremist in Russia) from its App Store in China over Chinese national security concerns.

On April 20, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill to ban TikTok in the country if ByteDance does not sell the platform. The US authorities explain the need to ban the platform saying that the application is “controlled by the country's foreign adversaries” and that there is no way to guarantee the security of personal data of Americans using this social network.

Source: Reuters

digital markets  China  US 

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