DoJ, ByteDance ask court: Hurry up and rule on TikTok ban already

Forced selloff case will likely be appealed again ... see you in (Supreme) court

The US Department of Justice and Bytedance spent a rare moment unified on Friday when the duo asked for a fast-tracked court schedule for the Chinese short video apps divest or ban case.

The duo, along with eight content creators, petitioned the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to make its decision by December 6, in time for a Supreme Court review filing deadline – setting an expectation the result, whatever it may be, will be challenged.

ByteDance and the content creators argue [PDF] that "a 'qualified divestiture' of TikTok as defined in the statute is not commercially, technologically, or legally feasible" and that the petitioners will "face irreparable harm from a ban of the TikTok platform in the United States." Further, it alleges that the ban violates the First Amendment right of the content creators.

Other arguments for a speedy court schedule are that "the Act is subject to substantial challenge" and "the public at large has a significant interest in the prompt disposition of this matter."

The proposed schedule requests oral arguments be "calendared" in September of this year. They've asked the court to respond to the request by the end of May.

The prohibition of the app is set to begin on January 19, 2025, 270 days after enactment.

The eight content creators sued the US government last Tuesday alleging that the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act violates their right to free speech by singling out a medium of communication.

The Act, which became law in April, forces ByteDance to either sell TikTok or cease operations.

The Act defines ByteDance and TikTok as foreign adversary-controlled applications and gives US presidents the power to name more. The concern among US lawmakers is that the company is beholden to requests from Beijing whether that be to snoop on Americans, alter algorithms to push propoganda or otherwise.

"The government cannot ban a medium for communication because it believes that medium is used to transmit foreign 'propaganda' or other protected content. Nor does the government have any actual, non-speculative evidence that banning TikTok in its current form enhances Americans’ data security, or that its ban is narrowly tailored to accomplish that objective," stated [PDF] the influencer lawsuit.

The lawsuit filed by the influencers was filed a few days after TikTok and its parent company launched their own. But the parties jointly filed the motion to expedite the issue on Friday.

"The 'qualified divestiture' demanded by the Act to allow TikTok to continue operating in the United States is simply not possible: not commercially, not technologically, not legally. And certainly not on the 270-day timeline required by the Act," assert ByteDance and TikTok in the lawsuit.

"Banning TikTok is so obviously unconstitutional, in fact, that even the act's sponsors recognized that reality, and therefore have tried mightily to depict the law not as a ban at all, but merely a regulation of TikTok's ownership," the complaint adds. ®

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