THE NEUTRAL ZONE
TikTok filed suit Monday in federal court in California against the Commerce Department, President Donald Trump and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, saying it aimed to prevent the government from “impermissibly banning” TikTok in September. In a blog post, TikTok stated, “We strongly disagree with the Administration’s position that TikTok is a national security threat and we have articulated these objections previously.” The company accused the government of ignoring “the great lengths that TikTok has gone to in order to demonstrate our commitment to serving the U.S. market.”
Trump cited national security concerns earlier this month when he filed an executive order giving the platform 45 days to find a buyer. Microsoft came forward as a potential buyer for the U.S. portion of TikTok, with President Trump stating the U.S. Treasury must receive a portion of the sale price. Microsoft has stated deal talk will be completed by September 15.
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian stated that China “supports relevant companies in taking up legal weapons to safeguard their legitimate rights and interests.” Xinhua News, a state-run media outlet, included further quotes from Zhao in which he accused the U.S. government of “systematic economic bullying targeting outperforming non-U.S. multinational companies.”
Patrick Ryan, a technical program manager who joined TikTok in March, also filed a constitutional challenge in federal court in Los Angeles. He alleged that government action would unconstitutionally deprive him of a job. He stated he is not speaking on behalf of TikTok and is not connected to the company’s lawsuit.
TikTok sues Trump administration over US ban – The Verge – 8/24/2020
TikTok cites some complex and unusual legal concerns around the order. It notes that personal communications and “informational materials” — potentially including apps — are typically exempt from sanctions. And it argues that TikTok’s app code is “an expressive means of communication” covered by the First Amendment.
TikTok suing Trump administration over executive order – The Guardian – 8/24/2020
TikTok, which is owned by China-based ByteDance, announced over the weekend it planned to challenge the ban and said it “strongly disagreed” with concerns raised by Trump and an executive order issued on 6 August that set in motion a 45-day period for TikTok to find a buyer for its US operations. The company said it was “shocked” by the order, which it said was issued “without any due process”. A subsequent executive order provided a 90-day deadline for the transaction to be completed.
TikTok sues Trump admin., says ban is unconstitutional and political – Ars Technica – 8/24/2020
TikTok’s complaint seeks to prevent the president and the Department of Commerce from “impermissively banning” the app, alleging that the authority under which the order was enacted (the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, or IEEPA) was a “gross misappropriation” and “a pretext for furthering the President’s broader campaign of anti-China rhetoric in the run-up to the US election.”
TikTok Sues Trump Administration ahead of Ban – National Review – 8/24/2020
In the company’s complaint, TikTok claims it spent nearly a year making “good faith” efforts to demonstrate to the government that the app poses no national security threat to the U.S. Despite those efforts, the U.S. government’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States “never articulated any reason why TikTok’s security measures were inadequate to address any national security concerns,” TikTok claimed.