TikTok Takes to U.S. Courts to Have Nationwide Ban Scrapped


TikTok’s parent company sued the U.S. government on Tuesday, alleging it violated Americans’ First Amendment rights by forcing it to either sell the social media company or have it outright banned in the states.

ByteDance, TikTok’s owner, had hinted that a lawsuit was imminent for weeks after lawmakers—on both sides of the aisle—combined to pass legislation to crackdown on TikTok last month, with President Joe Biden signing it into law on April 24.

The legislation requires ByteDance to sell off TikTok, which is estimated to be worth tens of billions, to a non-Chinese buyer. If it fails to do so, U.S. app stores and web hosting services will be required to stop hosting it, amounting to a ban. ByteDance has until by Jan. 15, 2025—or until April 24, 2025, if the White House grants an extension—to sell.

ByteDance has indicated it has no desire to part with its golden goose, which has been heavily criticized by politicians and U.S. security experts for its use of data and its owners’ ties to the Chinese Communist party—a link federal authorities have claimed is a national security threat.

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“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 one billion people worldwide,” the company said in the 67-page petition. “There is no question: The act will force a shutdown of TikTok.”

Legal experts have projected the case will land in front of the Supreme Court after making its rounds in lower courts.

TikTok’s lawyers claimed in the lawsuit that it was not “commercially, technologically, or legally feasible” to sell the company in the time frame given, largely due to its coding and reliance on ByteDance software.

The suit added that the app’s recommendation algorithm, which matches users with videos of interest and is pivotal to TikTok’s success, is owned by the Chinese government, which has said it will not sell the technology.

In addressing privacy concerns, TikTok pointed to the use of the platform by lawmakers and the Biden Administration as proof its not a threat to U.S. interests.

The DOJ did not immediately comment on the legislation, but said previously it worked with lawmakers to help ensure the legislation’s language would hold up in federal court.

TikTok’s lawsuit was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The filing comes just a day after TikTok’s chief executive, Shou Chew, appeared with his wife at the Met Gala.

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