TikTok sues US government over bill requiring sale

Julie Clover

TikTok's parent company ByteDance today filed a lawsuit against the US government, seeking to end a bill that would require it to sell TikTok to a non-Chinese company within months or face US authorities. ban.

The Protecting Americans from Controlled Applications of Foreign Adversaries Act, passed in April, requires ByteDance will give up its ownership of TikTok within nine months, with the possibility of a three-month extension if the deal is progressing. If TikTok is not sold out, the bill would prohibit app stores and companies in the US from making the TikTok app available to users. As of now, TikTok will be forced to shut down on January 19, 2025.

ByteDance calls the law “blatantly unconstitutional” and says TikTok has no way to continue operating in the United States. A 270-day schedule is “impossible,” and even if it were possible, the company argues that the act is still an “extraordinary and unconstitutional assertion of power.”

If it will be upheld, it will allow the government to decide that the company can no longer own and publish the innovative and unique speech platform it has created. If Congress can do this, it could circumvent the First Amendment by citing national security and ordering the publisher of any individual newspaper or website to sell it to avoid closure. And for TikTok, any such division of assets would disconnect Americans from the rest of the global community on a platform dedicated to shared content—an outcome that is fundamentally inconsistent with the constitutional obligations of both free speech and individual liberty.

The lawsuit claims the law violates the First Amendment and argues that “speculative and analytically flawed” concerns about security and content manipulation are not sufficient grounds to restrict the free speech of TikTok's 170 million U.S. users.


ByteDance says TikTok's US platform will not be commercially viable because it will limit the content pool, undermining “the value and viability of TikTok's US business.” ByteDance also claims that it would be technologically impossible to transfer TikTok's source code to a new owner since it would take years for new engineers to become sufficiently familiar with the code to perform routine maintenance, plus the code would need to be redesigned to avoid using ByteDance's software tools, which cannot be done in 270 days.

The Chinese government said it would “firmly oppose” any attempt to sell TikTok to an American company, and China would need to approve the sale. China does not intend to allow the sale of TikTok's recommendation system. ByteDance has already moved data from the US to servers owned by Oracle, but US lawmakers do not believe this is enough to protect users.

There are few companies in the US that could afford to acquire TikTok, and tech giants that could do it. buy, it will likely be barred from doing so for antitrust reasons.

ByteDance is asking the court for a declaratory judgment that the law violates the U.S. Constitution, preventing the U.S. Attorney General from enforcing it.


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