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TikTok Files Lawsuit Against U.S. Government Over Potential Ban Citing Violations of First Amendment

By Selena Richards | Posted on May 7, 2024

Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images via The Wrap

Photo Source: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images via The Wrap

On Tuesday (May 7), TikTok filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government over the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act. The bill aims to ban the app unless its Chinese owners, ByteDance, divest their stake. The lawsuit alleges that the legislation infringes on TikTok's First Amendment rights, constituting an "unprecedented violation" of free speech. The law was signed into effect last month, prompting TikTok's legal challenge.

This measure follows concerns raised by government officials and lawmakers regarding the app's potential national security risks. However, TikTok contends that the government has not provided sufficient evidence to support these claims, nor has it demonstrated that TikTok poses any specific harm in terms of data security or foreign influence on content.

The lawsuit further highlights TikTok's efforts to address national security concerns, including its partnership with Oracle to relocate user data stored on foreign servers to Texas, thereby minimizing potential data access by the Chinese government. Dubbed "Project Texas," this initiative aims to bolster data security and transparency by subjecting TikTok's operations to rigorous audits and oversight by a subsidiary dedicated to U.S. data security. Despite these measures, the government has remained steadfast in its pursuit of ByteDance to sell the app.

In addition to challenging the constitutionality of the law on free speech grounds, TikTok's lawsuit raises antitrust concerns regarding the proposed sale of the app. With potential buyers likely limited to large social media firms capable of affording TikTok's hefty price tag, the lawsuit questions the competitive implications of such a sale and the potential for regulatory scrutiny by the Federal Trade Commission or Department of Justice.

TikTok's lawsuit also argues that the legislation mandating the sale of the app or facing a nationwide ban violates its Fifth Amendment rights, particularly the right to due process. The social media app contends that it is being deprived of its property without proper legal procedures.

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