TikTok asks for ban to be overturned, alleging attack on free speech

A new law signed by President Joe Biden that could lead to a ban of TikTok next year is unconstitutional and should be overturned, the social media platform alleged Thursday in new legal filings. 

TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, argued that the potential ban amounts to a “radical departure” from the U.S. supporting an open internet, setting a “dangerous precedent.” The rebuttal comes after Biden signed the law in April, which requires ByteDance to either divest the business or face a ban of the platform within the U.S. 

ByteDance’s ownership of TikTok could jeopardize the personal data of millions of Americans who use the app, lawmakers said in arguing for the measure.  

The legal briefs, filed on behalf of TikTok as well as TikTok users and content creators, contend that the law unfairly singles out the company, while providing “no justification for banning TikTok by fiat.” The service’s users, meanwhile, allege in the court documents that the ban would curb free speech, as well as their ability to choose where they wish to express their views.

“Never before has Congress expressly singled out and shut down a specific speech forum,” TikTok said in one brief. “Never before has Congress silenced so much speech in a single act.”

TikTok added, “The Constitution does not allow Congress to single out one speech platform, make no findings, announce no justifications, ignore less restrictive alternatives, and discriminate based on speaker and content. The act is unconstitutional and must be enjoined.”

The law gives ByteDance nine months to arrange a sale of TikTok, with the potential for an additional three-month grace period. Barring such a deal, the law would effectively ban the social media app in the U.S.

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