TikTok Is Preparing to Sue Trump Administration Over US Ban


(Photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

TikTok plans to take the Trump administration to court over an executive order prohibiting US “transactions” with China-based owner ByteDance. Following initial reports on Friday, the popular social network confirmed to various news outlets that it is moving forward with a lawsuit—and soon.

“Even though we strongly disagree with the administration’s concerns, for nearly a year we have sought to engage in good faith to provide a constructive solution,” a TikTok spokesperson told PCMag sister site Mashable. “What we encountered instead was a lack of due process as the administration paid no attention to facts and tried to insert itself into negotiations between private businesses.

“To ensure that the rule of law is not discarded and that our company and users are treated fairly, we have no choice but to challenge the executive order through the judicial system,” the statement said, adding that a legal filing will likely happen sometime this week.

Neither TikTok nor the White House immediately responded to PCMag’s request for comment.

President Trump early this month signed two executive orders giving the US Commerce Secretary free reign to punish American companies and individuals found doing business with ByteDance. Penalties include a $1 million fine and possible imprisonment. Microsoft and Oracle are reportedly in talks to acquire TikTok’s operations in the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Initially, negotiations needed to be complete by Sept. 15, or the platform would be banned nationwide. However, an executive order signed on Aug. 14 gave ByteDance 90 days to sell its US assets.

Legal action doesn’t have to come from the top: An alliance of WeChat users—loyal to the Chinese-owned messaging app—on Friday filed an official complaint against Donald Trump and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. The suit, filed in a San Francisco US District Court, claims the president’s executive order is unconstitutional. “Banning the use of WeChat in the United States has the effect of foreclosing all meaningful access to social media for members of the Chinese-speaking community … who rely on it to communicate and interact with others like themselves,” the document said.

“By prohibiting the use of only WeChat but not any similar applications (ones not made in China and without Chinese interfaces), the executive order singles out people of Chinese and Chinese-American ancestry and subjects them to disparate treatment on the basis of race, ethnicity, nationality, national origin, and alienage,” it continued.  Trump’s order, the plaintiffs argued, “eviscerates an irreplaceable cultural bridge” connecting family members, friends, business partners, customers, religious community members, and others in and out of the United States.

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