TikTok takes to the courts to challenge US ban

On grounds that Trump administration hasn't allowed proper discussions about security or a sale

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Updated Made-in-China social network TikTok has decided to challenge the Trump administration's looming ban on its service by taking the matter to the USA's courts.

On its qq account and in a statement, TikTok owner Byte Dance offered a two-pronged rationale for its actions.

The first disagrees with the Trump administration's suggestion that TikTok shares data with China's government and is therefore a threat to national security. ByteDance, the company that owns TikTok, said it has tried to explain itself to the administration and find a solution that would satisfy US authorities its service is safe.

The second strand is an alleged "lack of due process" during those talks. TikTok spokesperson Josh Gartner said the Trump administration "paid no attention to facts and tried to insert itself into negotiations between private businesses".

The last jibe could be a reference to US president Donald Trump's personal call with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella about a sale or later kind words about the prospect of Oracle buying the service.

The ban on TikTok was enacted with an Executive Order that relies on powers designed to let a US president act during a national emergency. The power has not previously been applied to an entity like TikTok so the case may well rest on some gnarly legal issues rather than the nature of TikTok's activities.

As is usual with such actions, it will not be quick. The Register imagines that TikTok will first seek to get the action rolling so that it can continue to operate beyond the current November deadline to sell its US interests to a local company.

How long it takes for the matter to settle is anyone's guess, but there's a more-than-decent chance the United States will have a new president by the time a final decision is reached. Democratic nominee Joe Biden has said nothing on the matter, but has reportedly required his campaign staff to delete TikTok from their phones, an action that suggests fears of either diminished security or productivity. ®

Updated to add

Today TikTok itself posted a statement – in English – on its website titled "Why we are suing the Administration", which quotes extensively from the complaint.

The company said: "The Executive Order issued by the Administration on August 6, 2020 has the potential to strip the rights of [our users] without any evidence to justify such an extreme action, and without any due process. We strongly disagree with the Administration's position that TikTok is a national security threat and we have articulated these objections previously.

"Now is the time for us to act. We do not take suing the government lightly, however we feel we have no choice but to take action to protect our rights, and the rights of our community and employees."


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