TikTok sues US government over potential ban


TikTok filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday seeking to halt a potential ban of the popular social media app, calling it an “unprecedented violation” of the First Amendment, according to multiple reports.

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The lawsuit comes less than two weeks after President Joe Biden signed a bill that would force the Chinese owner of TikTok, ByteDance, to sell the app or face a ban, The New York Times reported.

“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,” attorneys for ByteDance and TikTok said in a 67-page petition obtained by NBC News.

“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 company argued that the law requiring the sale of TikTok — the Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act — is “unconstitutional” and that banning the app is “so obviously unconstitutional” that it has prompted lawmakers to frame the law as a regulation of the app’s ownership instead.

“They claim that the Act is not a ban because it offers ByteDance a choice: divest TikTok’s U.S. business or be shut down,” the petition says. “But in reality, there is no choice. 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.”

Earlier this year, Congress passed a law giving ByteDance 270 days to sell TikTok to a non-Chinese buyer or face a national ban over security concerns.

“Do we want TikTok, as a platform, to be owned by an American company or owned by China?” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in March. “Do we want the data from TikTok — children’s data, adults’ data ... to be staying here in America or going to China? That is the fundamental question at issue here.”

ByteDance said in its petition that, without question, “the Act 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.”

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to the petition.

Legal experts told the Times that they expect the case to end up before the Supreme Court.

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