TikTok has confirmed that it is filing a lawsuit against the U.S. government for its efforts to ban the social media app in the U.S. Transactions between American companies and TikTok’s parent company ByteDance have been targeted by an executive order signed by President Trump, along with another popular Chinese-owned app, WeChat.
Similar to the U.S. Commerce Department’s ban on dealings with Huawei before this, the U.S. government sees TikTok as a threat to national security. A deadline of 90 days has been given to ByteDance to sell TikTok—failure to do so could result in the removal of the TikTok app on certain official app stores such as Apple and Google.
The folks over at TikTok aren’t going away quietly, however. In an official statement, the company argued that the Trump administration’s executive order is too “extreme”—especially given the lack of “any evidence”. Additionally, the statement points to a lack of due process as further justification for the lawsuit, while reiterating TikTok’s denial that it is a national security threat.
“In our complaint we make it clear that we believe that the Administration ignored our extensive efforts to address its concerns, which we conducted fully and ing ood faith even as we disagreed with the concerns themselves.”
TikTok explains that “extraordinary measures” have been taken to ensure that the privacy and security of TikTok’s U.S. user base isn’t compromised. One of these measures is TikTok’s move to host some of American user data on servers in Singapore, and in the U.S. (basically, regions outside China). They’ve also implemented “software barriers” so that U.S. data isn’t mixed with data from “other ByteDance products”.
Basically, the Chinese-owned company is arguing that the executive order is a “misuse of IEEPA—the International Emergency Economic Powers Act—which provides the authority for the order. The perceived threat, according to TikTok, is ultra vires (outside the law), as it should not be considered as “an unusual and extraordinary threat”, as per the Act.
The deadline for TikTok (and WeChat) to be sold is on the 12th of November 2020, which means that there are just under 80 days left for parent companies ByteDance and Tencent to sell. Microsoft has already expressed interest acquiring the popular TikTok app, although it remains to be seen if such a huge deal can be struck within such a short time frame, and under the spotlight.