Rolling Out

TikTok accuses US of ‘extraordinary intrusion on free speech rights’

The law banning the app unless it is sold to a US company is the latest in America’s and China’s economic battle
TikTok (Photo credit: Bang Media)

TikTok has accused the U.S. of an “extraordinary intrusion on free speech rights.”

The firm filed a lawsuit aiming to block an American law that would ban the video app in the country unless it is sold by its Chinese parent company.

In court documents filed with the D.C.Circuit Court of Appeals, TikTok said the sale requirement was “simply not possible: not commercially, not technologically, not legally. And certainly not on the 270-day timeline required by the Act.”

It added the move had unfairly singled out TikTok, creating a “two-tiered speech regime with one set of rules for one named platform, and another set of rules for everyone else.”

It added the U.S. had put forward only “speculative” concerns to justify the measure and asked the court to block it.

President Joe Biden signed the bill into law last month, citing national security worries.

Washington claims TikTok’s Chinese ownership raises the risk data on U.S. users could fall into the hands of the Chinese government or be used for propaganda.

TikTok has maintained it is independent of the government, while parent company ByteDance has said it has no plans to sell the business.

The Chinese government has criticized the law as “economic bullying” from the U.S. and said it would oppose a sale.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the law was “not a ban” but was instead a “divestment.”

Under the U.S. law, app stores would be barred from offering TikTok in America starting in January 2025 unless parent company ByteDance found a buyer. Biden could extend that deadline by 90 days if talks are making progress.

TikTok says it has spent more than $2 billion in an effort to address U.S. concerns, creating safeguards on U.S. data.

The law aimed at TikTok is part of several actions the U.S. has taken against Chinese technology firms as tensions reach a fever pitch between the world’s two biggest economic superpowers.

America’s Department of Commerce has also confirmed it had revoked permissions that had allowed U.S. companies to export certain goods to Chinese technology giant Huawei.

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