TikTok Sues US Government Over Potential Ban

The social media company and its Chinese parent, ByteDance, sued to challenge the new law, saying it violated users’ First Amendment rights.

TikTok sued the federal government on Tuesday over a new law that would force its Chinese owner, ByteDance, to sell the popular social media app or face a ban in the United States, stoking a battle over national security and free speech that is likely to end up in the Supreme Court.


TikTok said the law violated the First Amendment by effectively removing an app that millions of Americans use to share their views and communicate freely. It also argued that a divestiture was “simply not possible,” especially within the law’s 270-day timeline, pointing to difficulties such as Beijing’s refusal to sell a key feature that powers TikTok in the United States.

“For the first time in history, Congress has enacted a law that subjects a single, named speech platform to a permanent, nationwide ban, and bars every American from participating in a unique online community with more than one billion people worldwide,” the company said in the 67-page petition, which initiated the lawsuit. “There is no question: The act will force a shutdown of TikTok by Jan. 19, 2025.”

TikTok is battling for its survival in the United States, with the fight set to play out primarily in courts over the next few months. The battle pits Congress’s national security concerns about the social media app’s ties to China against TikTok’s argument that a sale or ban would violate the First Amendment free-speech rights of its users and hurt small businesses that owe their livelihood to the platform. The case is expected to reach the Supreme Court.

The issue is particularly tricky in an election year, when President Biden and lawmakers are facing potential blowback from users of the popular app. The app, which says it has 170 million monthly users in the United States, is used for everything from sharing viral dances to political commentary. It’s become knitted into people’s lives, particularly for those who make a living on the platform as content creators.

Under the new law, which President Biden signed on April 24, TikTok has nine months, or a year if the president gives it an extension, to find a non-Chinese buyer. If it doesn’t, the law requires U.S. app stores and web hosting services to stop working with it — essentially banning it.

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