It’s official: TikTok is suing the United States over the “divest-or-ban” law

By 05/07/2024
It’s official: TikTok is suing the United States over the “divest-or-ban” law

The dispute between TikTok and the United States government is headed to the courts (again). After challenging state-level laws that sought to limit TikTok’s U.S. availability, the app is preparing to mount a legal offensive against the new federal law that attempts to force either a TikTok divestiture or a Stateside ban.

TikTok and parent company ByteDance have officially filed federal lawsuits that will contest the legality of the Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversaries Act, as the newly-signed law is known. These legal actions have raised several issues related to the law; for starters, TikTok is arguing that the “obviously unconstitutional” regulation restricts Americans’ right to expression and unfairly targets one specific entity.

“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,” reads ByteDance’s suit. “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.”

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A more specific issue raised in the lawsuit concerns the enforceability of the law. TikTok and ByteDance are arguing that the divestiture required by the law is “simply not possible” because the act of transferring TikTok’s code base to a U.S.-based overseer would require “a team [of engineers] that does not exist and would have no understanding of the complex code necessary to run the platform.”

To push back the proposed divestiture deadline, TikTok and ByteDance are expected to seek an injunction that would delay the start date of the Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversaries Act. That was part of the strategy TikTok used when it took the state of Montana to court over a ban enacted by Governor Greg Gianforte. That effort was largely successful, though this latest fight looks as if it’s destined for the Supreme Court. And if the legal battle ends up in the U.S. government’s favor, ByteDance may have to reconsider whether it wants to sell off TikTok.

Despite TikTok’s ongoing operational issues in the United States, its CEO is still doing his part to charm Americans. Shou Zi Chew and his wife showed up at the recent Met Gata, where Chew served as an honorary chair.

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