TikTok Sues US Government to Stop Divestment from ByteDance

On Tuesday, TikTok filed a lawsuit to block a law that would ban the app in the US if it is not separated from its parent company, ByteDance.

The petitioners seek a court order to cease the implementation of the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act. They argued that the Act violates the US Constitution in various ways, including First Amendment free speech protections.

US President Joe Biden signed the bipartisan bill into law last month, saying TikTok was a severe national security threat. He stressed that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) could weaponize its data access to the app’s 170.00 million American users.

Over the past two years, China and the US have engaged in an intensifying tech war that has resulted in numerous sanctions. In March, Beijing ordered all state-owned telecommunication companies to replace Intel, AMD, and other Western chips with domestically produced ones.

Industry watchers interpreted the move as China’s retaliation to the US Congress passing the Anti-TikTok Act on a bipartisan 360-to-58 vote. Speaker Mike Johnson bundled the measure with three other bills regarding foreign aid to Israel, Ukraine, and the Indo-Pacific region.

Legal experts favor the lawsuit, citing the lack of evidence that ByteDance uses TikTok to spy on US citizens. They emphasized the difficulty of proving that the app’s threat outweighs the company’s constitutional rights.

ByteDance Cites Unrealistic Terms of TikTok Bill

According to ByteDance, it is commercially, technologically, and legally impossible to divest from TikTok within the bill’s 12-month timeframe. Hence, the firm said the Act is no different from ordering the app to shut down on January 19, 2025.

The company further claimed that transferring the video-sharing platform’s source code to the US would take years of intensive work. Furthermore, hiring and training an entirely new team of engineers would be required to operate and maintain the platform.

Lastly, Beijing reiterated that it would not allow ByteDance to take the recommendation engine used by TikTok to the US. In addition, the PRC accused the Act of being a disguised attempt to steal the technology behind the platform’s success.

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