TikTok sues US government as it tries to block law that could ban apps | Science and technology news

TikTok is suing the U.S. government over a law that would force the app’s Chinese owner, ByteDance, to sell the app within nine months or ban its use in America.

The popular video-sharing platform is trying to block the recently passed bill, saying it violates the U.S. Constitution, including the First Amendment, which protects free speech.

The bill, officially known as the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, was signed by President Joe Biden on April 24 and gives TikTok’s Chinese parent company ByteDance until January 19 next year to sell the app to another company or face a ban.

The measure passed overwhelmingly in Congress last month as US politicians feared China could access data on US citizens or spy on them using the app.

Tick ​​tock denies it has shared or would ever share US user data and accuses American politicians of spreading “speculative” concerns.

More than a billion people use TikTok worldwide, including 170 million in the United States, the country with the platform’s largest audience.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday in Washington by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit called the law an “unprecedented violation” of the First Amendment.

It says: “For the first time in history, Congress has enacted a law that would subject a single, designated speech platform to a permanent, nationwide ban and ban every American from participating in a unique online community of more than a billion people worldwide. “”

It continued: “There is no doubt: The law will force a shutdown of TikTok by January 19, 2025, silencing the 170 million Americans who use the platform to communicate in ways that cannot be found anywhere else is possible.”

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Will the US ban TikTok?

ByteDance said it has “no plans to sell TikTok.” But even if it wanted to, the company would have to get the nod from Beijing, which has previously opposed a forced sale of the platform and this time has signaled its opposition.

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TikTok argues that citing national security concerns is not a sufficient reason to restrict free speech and that the burden is on the US federal government to demonstrate that this restriction is justified. It was unable to cope with this burden, the lawsuit said.

Why is TikTok threatened with a US ban?

TikTok has attracted around 170 million US users in seven years and taken America by storm. But there have long been concerns in Washington about the Chinese-based ownership of the social media platform.

Beijing-based technology company ByteDance originally launched the Chinese version of the app in 2016 called Douyin, which means “trembling sound.” An international version followed in November 2017 – TikTok.

Since then, the platform has experienced a meteoric rise. Due to its popularity among Generation Z, it has become an influential social media platform. However, it has become the target of both sides of the political spectrum in Washington and other Western countries due to fears about the use of user data.

Politicians and officials in the US have expressed concerns that Chinese authorities could force ByteDance to hand over US user data. TikTok has said it has never done this and wouldn’t do it if asked. There are also concerns about influencing Americans by suppressing or promoting certain content on TikTok.

The use of TikTok by the federal government’s nearly four million employees on their agencies’ devices is already banned in the U.S., with limited exceptions for law enforcement, national security and security research purposes. A similar ban also applies to civil servants in the United Kingdom.

India became the first country to ban TikTok in 2020 after a violent clash on the India-China border that left at least 20 Indian soldiers dead. Interestingly, TikTok is also not available in app stores in China – where the internet is strictly controlled by the state – and uses Douyin instead.

In March, TikTok’s chief executive directly appealed to US users to stop the bill forcing the sale of the app and accused US lawmakers of trying to shut down the platform. In a video posted on the platform, Shou Zi Chew told users that the bill “will lead to a ban on TikTok in the United States,” adding, “Even the bill’s supporters admit that this is their goal. “

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The lawsuit claimed that if the law remained in effect, the federal government could force publishers of other platforms, including news sites, to sell or close, citing national security reasons.

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Opponents of the law argue that Chinese authorities could easily obtain information about Americans through other means, including through commercial data brokers that rent or sell personal information.

The Justice Department declined to comment on the lawsuit Tuesday.

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