TikTok Sues the US Government to Stop a Potential Ban

TikTok sued the US federal government on Tuesday, arguing that the possible app ban violates the First Amendment.

Last month, President Biden signed a bill that forces TikTok and its Chinese owner, Bytedance, to divest its ownership of the app or face a nationwide ban. At the time, TikTok said that it planned to sue, calling the law unconstitutional.

In the lawsuit, TikTok says that the law violates the First Amendment and the divesting requirement is “simply not possible.”

“If Congress can do this, it can circumvent the First Amendment by invoking national security and ordering the publisher of any individual newspaper or website to sell to avoid being shut down,” the lawsuit said. “And for TikTok, any such divestiture would disconnect Americans from the rest of the global community on a platform devoted to shared content—an outcome fundamentally at odds with the Constitution’s commitment to both free speech and individual liberty.”

TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

Responding to the law’s enactment last month, a TikTok spokesperson told WIRED. “This unconstitutional law is a TikTok ban, and we will challenge it in court. We believe the facts and the law are clearly on our side, and we will ultimately prevail. The fact is, we have invested billions of dollars to keep US data safe and our platform free from outside influence and manipulation,”

First Amendment lawyers have suggested that TikTok has a strong case. Without solid evidence to support the government’s claims that TikTok is a threat to national security, a court could find that a ban would go too far and could cause the company irreparable damage. Others have suggested that a strong data privacy and security law could protect US user data better than an outright ban.

“TikTok’s challenge to the ban is important, and we expect it to succeed,” Jameel Jaffer, executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, said in a statement on Tuesday. “The First Amendment means the government can’t restrict Americans’ access to ideas, information, or media from abroad without a very good reason for it—and no such reason exists here.”

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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