As expected, TikTok parent ByteDance sued the U.S. government today and explained why in a blog post
. It all goes back to the executive order signed by President Donald Trump on August 6th that will ban TikTok in the states unless ByteDance divests itself of the short-form video app's U.S. operations. The U.S. considers TikTok to be a national security threat because it fears that the app collects personal information from users and shares it with the Communist Chinese government.
ByteDance claims that the Trump administration's decisions were "heavily politicized"
ByteDance says that the 100 million-strong U.S. community that uses TikTok and the 1,500 U.S. employees who support the site are in danger of losing the app and their jobs without due process. As the company says, "The executive order seeks to ban TikTok purportedly because of the speculative possibility that the application could be manipulated by the Chinese government. But, as the U.S. government is well aware, Plaintiffs have taken extraordinary measures to protect the privacy and security of TikTok’s U.S. user data, including by having TikTok store such data outside of China (in the United States and Singapore) and by erecting software barriers that help ensure that TikTok stores its U.S. user data separately from the user data of other ByteDance products. These actions were made known to the U.S. government during a recent U.S. national security review of ByteDance’s 2017 acquisition of a China-based company, Musical.ly. As part of that review, Plaintiffs provided voluminous documentation to the U.S. government documenting TikTok's security practices and made commitments that were more than sufficient to address any conceivable U.S. government privacy or national security concerns..."
President Trump's executive order gives ByteDance until September 15th to divest itself of TikTok's U.S. operations
The firm also points out that TikTok's key personnel are Americans including CEO Kevin Mayer, who was hired from one of the most American companies that you can think of-Disney. Other employees such as TikTok's Global Chief Security Officer and its General Counsel are Americans based in the states. This means that TikTok is not subject to Chinese law and does not have to collect information on U.S. consumers and corporations at the request of the Chinese government.
The blog post also states, "By banning TikTok with no notice or opportunity to be heard (whether before or after the fact), the executive order violates the due process protections of the Fifth Amendment...The order is...not based on a bona fide national emergency and authorizes the prohibition of activities that have not been found to pose 'an unusual and extraordinary threat.'"
TikTok has been downloaded over two billion times over the App Store and the Google Play Store. Used mostly by teens, the app is used to share lip-syncing, dancing, gags, protests, and more; during the worst of the pandemic, it gave people something to do while stuck at home.
ByteDance says that it would prefer talking out the issue instead of litigating it. "But with the Executive Order threatening to bring a ban on our US operations – eliminating the creation of 10,000 American jobs and irreparably harming the millions of Americans who turn to this app for entertainment, connection, and legitimate livelihoods that are vital especially during the pandemic – we simply have no choice.
We will continue the work we have long been undertaking to earn the trust of our full US community. For example, our Transparency and Accountability Center is central among those ongoing efforts as an industry-leading step to build trust and understanding of our moderation policies, source code, and data practices. Our legal challenge is a protection to ensure that these efforts can take place without the threat of an unwarranted ban hovering like a dark cloud over the joy and creativity of our community."