UPDATE: A statement issued by TikTok Saturday night confirms that the company will file a suit against the Trump administration. In a statement, the company said, "To ensure that the rule of law is not discarded and that our company and users are treated fairly, we have no choice but to challenge the executive order through the judicial system."
that as soon as Monday, short-form video app TikTok will begin a legal challenge to President Donald Trump's campaign to ban the popular app in the states. TikTok has over 100 million users in the U.S. and has been installed over 2 billion times worldwide from the App Store and the Google Play Store. Favored by teens, TikTok has given bored kids something to do while stuck at home during the pandemic. Content on TikTok lasts 15 or 60 seconds and includes members lip-syncing to hit songs, dancing, doing comedy bits, and protesting hot button issues.
TikTok to fight back against Trump's August 6th executive order as soon as Monday"
An executive order signed by Trump on August 14th ordered TikTok's Chinese based parent DanceByte to sell off its U.S. operations in 90 days. In his order, Trump said that there is "credible evidence that leads me to believe that ByteDance … might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States." Some U.S. companies that have announced an interest in buying the app's U.S. operations include Microsoft, Oracle, and Twitter. Apple was rumored to have an interest in TikTik but later denied it. Trump has hinted that any purchase of TikTok by a U.S. company might need to include a payment to the U.S. government adding up to a "substantial portion" of the transaction amount. Considering that TikTok's value has been estimated at a figure as high as $150 billion, the U.S. portion of the business alone might generate a large sum for the U.S. government.
TikTok is being pursued by Microsoft, Oracle and Twitter
TikTok plans on challenging an earlier executive order signed by the president on August 6th that requires Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to draw up a list of transactions involving ByteDance that should be banned after 45 days. Sources cited by Reuters
say that the order relied on the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and thus deprived it of due process. TikTok also will challenge the White House's defining TikTok as a national security threat.
However, even if ByteDance is able to challenge the August 6th order, it will still have to divest itself of TikTok's U.S. operations or face a ban. That's because the August 14th order does not face a judicial review. Under the earlier order, U.S. companies could be blocked from advertising on the site, TikTok employees in the states might not be allowed to get paid, and landlords might even be forced to evict TikTok workers from any property they leased or rented to them. Additionally, the U.S. could force TikTok to be defended by attorneys from outside of the country.
Earlier this month, TikTok said that it might fight back against the Trump administration by arguing that the executive order was rushed out, blindsiding the company. Normally, a company being targeted by the Feds receives a subpoena and has a confidential meeting with the DOJ. Where TikTok plans on filing its lawsuit as soon as Monday is unknown. While the company previously said that it would explore its legal options, employees were said to be considering their own separate law suit.
If TikTok is banned in the U.S., there could be some backlash by users of voting age who might feel compelled to vote this November. Meanwhile, other apps have already started to debut features similar to TikTok. For example, Instagram has already launched Reels
, and a new app similar to TikTok called Clash was released months ahead of expectations.
For those wondering whether the president has the authority to issue the executive orders, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said that a 1977 law allows the president to regulate interstate commerce to safeguard the country from unusual events. McEnany said, "The administration is committed to protecting the American people from all cyber threats." She noted that apps like TikTok "collect significant amounts of private data on users."