TikTok is suing the US government to stop a law that bans the app

TikTok app logo on Android
(Image credit: Jay Bonggolto / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • TikTok and its parent company, ByteDance, have filed a lawsuit challenging a new US law signed by President Biden.
  • The law may either force TikTok to separate from ByteDance or ban the app in the US, citing national security concerns.
  • TikTok argues that the law targets it unfairly and violates the First Amendment's rules on free speech.
  • The company also claims that the requirement for TikTok to be sold is not feasible—commercially, technologically, or legally.

TikTok has been on thin ice since President Joe Biden signed the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act in April, but the company is suing to stay afloat.

CNN reports that the short-form video platform and its parent company, ByteDance, have filed a petition to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to challenge the new law that forces the app to split from ByteDance or otherwise bans it in the country. TikTok claims the law unfairly targets it and is unconstitutional.

Last month, as part of an aid package for Ukraine and Israel, President Biden signed a new law that gives ByteDance nine months to either divest TikTok or shut it down in the US due to national security concerns. However, the complaint claims that the government hasn't provided proof that the Chinese government has misused TikTok.

“The statements of congressional committees and individual Members of Congress during the hasty, closed-door legislative process preceding the Act’s enactment confirm that there is at most speculation, not ‘evidence,’ as the First Amendment requires,” the filing states.

The company adds that the law breaks the rules of free speech in the First Amendment and that it's impossible to follow anyway. TikTok explains that the requirement for the platform to be sold off is impossible in commercial, technological, and legal terms.

TikTok icon

(Image credit: Jay Bonggolto / Android Central)

TikTok has less than a year from when President Biden signed the act to find a US buyer or risk being shut down.

But even if ByteDance were open to selling TikTok, the Chinese government would likely prevent the sale, as it needs to approve the transfer of TikTok's algorithms. TikTok also mentions that a sale would be tricky, explaining that "millions of lines of software code" would need to be transferred to a new owner.

When the U.S. government first tried to ban TikTok during the Trump administration, ByteDance looked into selling its US operations to an American company. However, talks of selling to Oracle, Microsoft, or even Walmart fell through, and apparently, ByteDance isn't interested in a repeat and would rather shut down TikTok in the US.

This lawsuit is the latest chapter in a years-long drama. The US government keeps saying TikTok's China ties are a security risk, worried that American user data might be leaked. TikTok denies it all, saying it spent tons of cash to keep the treasure trove of data safe.

Jay Bonggolto
News Writer & Reviewer

Jay Bonggolto always keeps a nose for news. He has been writing about consumer tech and apps for as long as he can remember, and he has used a variety of Android phones since falling in love with Jelly Bean. Send him a direct message via Twitter or LinkedIn.