TikTok Sues US Government Over 'Unconstitutional' Legislation To Implement App Ban

8 May 2024 | 9:30 am | Mary Varvaris

TikTok and Byte Dance called the decision “unconstitutional” and said the legislation is “singling out” and “silencing” the video-sharing app.


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TikTok and parent company Byte Dance are suing the US government over legislation that could ban the app in America next year, calling it “unconstitutional.”

Billboard reports that the US government recently passed legislation that would require the Chinese company Byte Dance to divest ownership of TikTok by 19 January 2025 or face a ban in America. President Joe Biden’s approval and signing of the Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act makes this possible.

Byte Dance and TikTok filed a lawsuit in a Washington DC federal court on Tuesday (7 May), stating that the US government’s actions are an “unprecedented violation” of their First Amendment rights. They called the decision “unconstitutional” and said the legislation is “singling out” and “silencing” TikTok.

“For the first time in history, Congress has enacted a law that subjects a single, named speech platform to a permanent, nationwide ban,” TikTok stated in the lawsuit, NBC News reports, “and bars every American from participating in a unique online community with more than 1 billion people worldwide.”

The US is moving to ban TikTok due to reported national security concerns. Democrats and Republicans are worried about the Chinese technology firm Byte Dance Ltd's stake in the video-sharing app. Just weeks ago, the divest-or-ban legislation passed the House with a vote of 360-58. This is the first time the US government has signed off on shutting down a social media platform.

In the filing, TikTok’s attorneys wrote, “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.”

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On the reason for seeking to ban TikTok, Texas Republican representative Michael McCaul previously called the app “a spy balloon in Americans’ phones,” Bloomberg reports. McCaul added, “This bill protects Americans and especially America’s children from the malign influence of Chinese propaganda on the app TikTok.”

Last month, a spokesperson for TikTok took to X (formerly known as Twitter) and alleged that the House of Representatives “is using the cover of important foreign and humanitarian assistance to once again jam through a ban bill that would trample the free speech rights of 170 million Americans, devastate 7 million businesses, and shutter a platform that contributes $24 billion to the U.S. economy, annually.”

Both the Donald Trump and Biden administrations have been trying to ban TikTok in the US since 2020.

Earlier this year, opposition leader Peter Dutton called on the Albanese government to follow the United States' example and implement a ban on TikTok.

In an interview with WSFM’s Jonesy and Amanda, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese stated that the federal government has “no plans” to ban TikTok in Australia.