TikTok sues Trump administration over ban in US


TikTok is facing scrutiny because it’s owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance.

Angela Lang/CNET

TikTok on Monday said it’s suing the Trump administration over an executive order that would effectively ban the short-form video app in the US on Sept. 20. 

The lawsuit was filed Monday in the US District Court for the Central District of California, according to the New York Times. In a blogpost, TikTok said Trump’s order didn’t follow due process or provide “evidence that TikTok was an actual threat.” The executive order also failed to justify its “punitive actions,” the company said. 

TikTok said it was deprived the opportunity to respond and that the national security concerns surrounding the app are without merit.

“We do not take suing the government lightly, however we feel we have no choice but to take action to protect our rights, and the rights of our community and employees,” the company said. 

On Aug. 6, Trump signed an executive order barring any US transactions with TikTok’s Chinese parent company ByteDance. The order stated that the data TikTok collects “threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information” and could allow China to track the location of federal employees and contractors. Under the order, TikTok would be banned in the US unless another company acquired the app. The move comes after India in June banned TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps citing national security concerns.

TikTok said it has never turned over US user data to the Chinese government and wouldn’t do so even if it were asked. The company has also denied that it censors content critical of the Chinese government. Analysts for the CIA told the White House that it’s possible for Chinese intelligence officials to use TikTok and intercept data “to bore into smartphones” but there’s no evidence that has happened, The New York Times reported.

TikTok said in a blog post earlier this month that Trump’s executive order “risks undermining global businesses’ trust in the United States’ commitment to the rule of law, which has served as a magnet for investment and spurred decades of American economic growth.” The company also said “it sets a dangerous precedent for the concept of free expression and open markets.”

Microsoft is interested in buying TikTok’s service in the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand by Sept. 15, before the executive order’s deadline. Trump said if the sale went through, the US Treasury should get a cut of the deal, although that will likely encounter legal challenges too. Twitter has also been in preliminary talks about acquiring TikTok, but is considered a “long-shot bidder,” The Wall Street Journal reported. Oracle and Google’s parent company Alphabet have also considered purchasing TikTok. Apple denied it was interested in acquiring the company too. More than 100 million Americans use TikTok, according to the company. 

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