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TikTok files complaint against the United States in connection with the law which could ban it

Photo: Valérian Mazataud Le Devoir Washington adopted a text at the end of April that requires ByteDance to sell TikTok within twelve months, otherwise the application used by 170 million Americans would be banned.

Julie Jammot – Agence France-Presse in San Francisco

Posted at 12:41 p.m. Updated at 1:50 p.m.

  • United States

TikTok and its Chinese parent company ByteDance filed a complaint against the United States on Tuesday, saying that the law which poses an ultimatum to the popular video platform, and risks banning it from the country next year , is “unconstitutional”.

Washington adopted a text at the end of April which obliges ByteDance to sell TikTok within twelve months, failing which the application used by 170 million Americans would be banned.

The social network and many personalities and NGOs consider that this law violates the freedom of expression of its users, guaranteed by the First Amendment of the American Constitution.

“For the first time in history, Congress has passed a law that permanently bans one speech platform nationwide, and prohibits every American from participating in an online community with more than a billion people worldwide,” the company's lawyers say in the complaint filed in federal court in Washington.

After the vote by elected officials and promulgation by the White House, TikTok had warned that it would use all possible legal avenues against the law called Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act (“protecting Americans from applications controlled by foreign adversaries”).

The promoters of this text claim suspicion of manipulation and spying on American users by the Chinese authorities via TikTok.

“No choice »

By law, the platform has 270 days to find new non-Chinese investors, otherwise it will be banned in the United States. The White House may grant an additional 90 days.

“They claim the law is not a ban because it gives ByteDance a choice [ …] But in reality, there is no choice,” assert the lawyers.

They explain in the complaint that the required transfer “is simply not not possible, neither on a commercial level, nor on a technological level, nor on a legal level. And certainly not within the time required by law.”

Like many associations defending freedoms, they also point out the potential risks for other platforms.

“If Congress can do this, it can circumvent the first amendment by invoking national security and ordering the publisher of a newspaper or website to sell to avoid being shut down,” they argue.

The legal battle could go all the way to the Supreme Court.

In 2020, TikTok managed to block a similar decree from former President Donald Trump. She then filed an appeal and a judge temporarily suspended the decree, finding that the reasons given for the ban were exaggerated and freedom of expression threatened.

“Unprecedented” law

The new law aims to circumvent difficulties previously encountered, including in states that tried to ban the application.

Experts believe that the Supreme Court could be sensitive to the national security arguments put forward by elected officials, without certainty.

“TikTok was successful in its previous challenges to the First Amendment,” commented Gautam Hans, a law professor at Cornell University, but the fact that the law is supported by both Democrats and Republicans “could prompt judges to defer to a Congressional ruling that the company poses a risk to national security. »

“In the absence of a public debate on the exact nature of these risks, however, it is difficult to determine why the courts should validate such an unprecedented law” , he added.

An argument that the platform largely puts forward, ensuring that “the law does not articulate any threat posed by TikTok.”

“Even the statements of members of Congress and the report of a parliamentary committee merely indicates that they are concerned about the “hypothetical” possibility that TikTok could be misused in the future, without citing specific evidence”, the lawyers detail. < /p>

“These speculative concerns fall far short of what is required when First Amendment rights are at stake,” they continue.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116