TikTok Sues U.S. Government Over Law Forcing Sale or Ban

Less than two weeks after President Biden signed a bill that will force TikTok’s Chinese owner, ByteDance, to sell the popular social media app or face a ban in the United States, TikTok said it sued the federal government on Tuesday, arguing the law was unconstitutional.

TikTok said that the law violated the First Amendment by effectively removing an app that millions of Americans use to share their views and communicate freely. It also argued that a divestiture was “simply not possible,” especially within the law’s 270-day timeline, pointing to difficulties such as Beijing’s refusal to sell a key feature that powers TikTok in the United States.

“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 it provided, which initiates the lawsuit. “There is no question: The act will force a shutdown of TikTok by Jan. 19, 2025.”

TikTok is battling for its survival in the United States, with the fight set to play out primarily in courts over the next few months. While lawmakers who passed the bill have said the app is a national security threat because of its ties to China, the courts must now weigh those concerns against TikTok’s argument that a sale or ban would violate the First Amendment free-speech rights of its users and hurt small businesses that owe their livelihood to the platform.

Several legal experts expect the case to land in front of the Supreme Court.

Under the new law, which was signed on April 24, TikTok has nine months, or a year if the president gives it an extension, to find a non-Chinese buyer. If it doesn’t, the law requires U.S. app stores and web hosting services to stop working with it — essentially a ban.

TikTok filed the suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit a day after its chief executive, Shou Chew, appeared with his wife at the Met Gala, where he was an honorary chair.

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