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The US government is sued by TikTok over a law that could prohibit the app.

In an effort to obstruct a law that would ban TikTok if its parent company, ByteDance, fails to sell it within a year, TikTok is filing a lawsuit against the United States government. Tuesday’s filing of the lawsuit alleges that the bill is in violation of the United States Constitution. The law, according to TikTok, violates the commitment of the United States Constitution to “both free speech and individual liberty.”

“Congress, for the first time in history, has passed a law that permanently and nationwide bans a single named speech platform and prohibits every American from participating in a unique online community with over one billion users worldwide,” the lawsuit states. “The Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act” (the “Act”), which you refer to, is in violation of the Constitution.”

President Biden filed a lawsuit two weeks after signing the measure, which included aid for Israel and Ukraine. The measure gives ByteDance until January 19 to sell the application or face a prohibition, increasing the likelihood of a TikTok ban.

According to TikTok, the US government has failed to provide substantiating evidence for its assertions that the application poses national security threats.

The lawsuit states, “The statements made by congressional committees and individual members of Congress during the hurried, behind-the-scenes legislative process that preceded the enactment of the Act confirm that there is merely speculation and not ‘evidence,’ as the First Amendment mandates.”

Further, TikTok asserts that the legislation is essentially an attempt to prohibit the application, arguing that it is unfeasible to generate revenue for the platform within the allotted 270-day period.

The lawsuit states, “Petitioners have repeatedly informed the U.S. government of this, and sponsors of the Act were aware that divestment is not possible.” “Without a doubt, the Act will compel TikTok to cease operations by January 19, 2025, thereby silencing the 170 million Americans who utilise the platform to engage in unique forms of communication that are not possible elsewhere.”

The Chinese government would likely prohibit the sale of the application, even if ByteDance intended to do so, because it would require approval of the transmission of TikTok’s algorithms. TikTok further asserts that transferring “millions of lines of software code” to a new proprietor would render a transaction technologically unfeasible. 

The lawsuit is the result of four years of US government allegations that TikTok’s connections to China expose sensitive American information to the Chinese government and pose a threat to national security. In response to these allegations, TikTok stated that it has invested $2 billion to safeguard U.S. users’ information.

Legislators have also argued that TikTok has the ability to shape public opinion by controlling the content it displays in its ‘For You’ feed.

TikTok considered divesting its U.S. operations to an American company when the Trump administration was considering prohibiting the application. Among the prospective contenders were Oracle, Microsoft, and Walmart; however, none of these agreements materialised. This time around, reports suggest that ByteDance would rather not sell TikTok but rather close it down.

Juliet P.
Author: Juliet P.

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