TikTok Owner ByteDance Sues Federal Government Over US Ban of Social Media Platform

The Chinese parent company says the ban, signed last month, violates the First Amendment rights of U.S. users

A group of people stand outside the U.S. Capitol building holding pro-TikTok signs, including a large banner reading "Keep TikTok." Other signs include fill-in-the-blanks with "my _____ thrives on TikTok," with items people have put in that space including art, voice, teaching, and education platform. Other signs read "TikTok helped grow my business."
People gather for a press conference about their opposition to a TikTok ban on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on March 22, 2023. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

TikTok and parent company ByteDance sued the U.S. government in a Tuesday filing, saying a ban on the Chinese-owned social media platform violates the First Amendment rights of American users.

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

President Joe Biden signed the Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act on April 24 as part of a massive foreign aid package signed by Congress.

“That law — the Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act (the ‘Act’) — is unconstitutional,” ByteDance said in its filing.

The lawsuit, filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit, names U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland as the respondent. The White House did not immediately have a comment on Tuesday.

The new law requires ByteDance to sell the platform to a U.S.-based company within nine months or be shut down for American users, with an additional three-month runway if a sale is in progress by then. The company says it “doesn’t have any plans” to sell TikTok.

“The ‘qualified divestiture’ demanded by the Act to allow TikTok to continue operating in the United States is simply not possible: not commercially, not technologically, not legally,” per the lawsuit.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.


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