Mark Shefelbein/Associated Press
TikTok plans to sue the Trump administration and challenge the president’s executive order that prohibits the United States from providing the service.
According to a person directly involved in the upcoming lawsuit but not authorized to speak on behalf of the company, the video-sharing app, which is very popular in the smartphone generation TikTok, will file a federal lawsuit on Tuesday. People familiar with the matter said the document will be submitted to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, where TikTok’s U.S. business is located.
NPR learned that the lawsuit will argue that the president’s far-reaching move is unconstitutional because it did not give the company a chance to respond. The source also claimed that the government also claimed that the national security reasons for the order were unfounded.
The source said: “This is based on pure speculation and speculation.” “The order did not find any facts, but only reiterated the statements about China.”
The White House declined to comment on the anticipated lawsuit, but defended the president’s executive order. White House spokesperson Judd Deere said: “The government is committed to protecting the American people from all important cyber-related threats, critical infrastructure, public health and security, and threats to our economy and national security.”
The role of the executive order on Thursday night
According to the President’s executive order on Thursday night, for national security reasons, “any transaction” between American citizens and TikTok’s parent company ByteDance in Beijing will be declared illegal within 45 days.
Such a comprehensive ban is fatal to TikTok in the United States
In the United States, the app is very popular among teenagers and young people in their twenties, where more than 100 million users have downloaded the app. They use it to share dance and comedy short films in 60-second video clips, which are usually popular. The app has become a cultural phenomenon, so much so that it has become a platform for discovering new music, and even launched several breakthrough hits. These ads have surpassed the Billboard charts. The app has also been used to anger the president, including when thousands of teenagers booked tickets for the presidential rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma for no reason, exaggerating the Trump campaign’s response to the incident Expectations, and caused the embarrassment of disappointing turnout.
If the presidential ban goes into effect, the app may no longer be able to send software updates, causing TikTok to be unmanageable on the smartphone and eventually failing to run over time.
The lawsuit will cut off the position of US advertisers on their apps and force Apple and Google to remove them from the mobile app store.
TikTok’s more than 1,000 American employees may freeze their salaries indefinitely. This may force landlords who own TikTok businesses to evacuate them. Trump’s order may prevent US lawyers from representing TikTok in any US legal proceedings.
Sources familiar with TikTok’s internal discussions on the matter said that the president’s order seemed to be hasty and did not include TikTok’s maintenance of any rigidity or exceptions to legal representatives, which the company plans to argue is a violation of due process rights.
Normally, if the federal government initiates an investigation, it will notify the company with a subpoena or other form of notice requesting a response to allegations of misconduct or malfeasance. Federal investigators sometimes call company representatives to participate in confidential meetings regarding upcoming law enforcement operations.
According to the staff of TikTok’s legal team, the White House did not conduct such outreach activities requiring evidence before the issuance of the executive order on Thursday, and TikTok lawyers believe this is a shortcut to standard procedures.
Therefore, the president’s move shocked TikTok’s internal.
TikTok officials expressed the same approval for the response to the order. TikTok said in a statement: “We are shocked by the recently issued executive order, which was issued without any due process.” “The text of the decision clearly shows that it has been relying on an unnamed’report’ without citations. Worried that the application “may” be used for misinformation campaigns without any basis for such worry, and worried that data collection is the industry standard for thousands of mobile applications worldwide.”
TikTok officials declined to comment publicly on the looming legal battle.
Violation of TikTok ban will be fined 300,000 US dollars
Violation of the order will be severely punished. Within the 45-day period, doing business with TikTok may result in a fine of $300,000 per violation, and “intentional” criminals may even face criminal prosecution.
Another issue that may be raised in TikTok’s legal challenge is that Trump has surpassed his authority in issuing executive orders.
The order is partly issued under the executive power called the “International Emergency Economic Power Act”, which gives the president broad powers to impose economic sanctions in the event of “abnormal and very threats” (such as threats to national security) .
TikTok’s lawyers may emphasize this power in litigation, but there are exceptions. For example, the authorities cannot be used to regulate or prohibit “personal communication” or the sharing of movies and other forms of media. TikTok can say that this is the main purpose of its application.
If Congress believes that the President has unfairly used emergency economic powers, the legislator can pass a resolution that terminates the order to veto the order.
However, Congress will not retreat, because doubts about the potential links between the Chinese Communist Party and Chinese technology companies have already gained bipartisan support.
The Senate has passed a unanimous vote and passed a bill on Thursday banning the use of TikTok on all government-issued devices.
Washington is worried about China’s access to U.S. citizens’ data
TikTok’s terms of service clarify what it captures from users, including location data, browsing history and personal contacts.
The app also informs users that they can share data with the Chinese parent company ByteDance. This has raised concerns in Washington that Chinese government authorities may gain access to the data of US citizens and use this information in blackmail schemes or targeted false propaganda activities.
Neither the Trump administration nor TikTok critics outside the administration provided evidence that the short video application had ever cooperated with Chinese authorities.
Some technical experts say that the concerns about China are well-founded.
Former White House official Lindsay Gorman (Lindsay Gorman), now a researcher for the Security Democratic Alliance, told NPR that TikTok’s parent company ByteDance will eventually become the head of the Chinese Communist Party.
Goldman said: “The harsh reality of how Chinese companies operate means that if the CCP wants this data, it will get it.”
She added: “Retaining TikTok as Chinese ownership will lead to holes in the information space, and as elections proceed, there will be more and more political exchanges on the platform.”
TikTok officials viewed the executive order as a pressure exercise, a way to force American companies to quickly acquire the app’s assets in the United States.
The US technology giant Microsoft, which owns Xbox, LinkedIn and Skype, has begun negotiations to acquire TikTok, but these discussions are still in the early stages.
Editor’s note: TikTok helps fund NPR content that appears on social media platforms.