TikTok challenges US law targeting Chinese ownership

TikTok has taken legal action to contest a US law targeting its operations within the country, seeking to halt a potential ban unless it severs ties with its Chinese parent company. The social media platform, boasting 170 million American users, characterized the law as an infringement on free speech rights in its recent filing. It criticized the justifications provided by the US government, labeling them as speculative, and urged the court to intervene.

President Joe Biden signed the legislation last month, citing national security concerns over TikTok’s Chinese ownership. The move followed prolonged debates in Washington regarding potential risks associated with Chinese-owned tech companies accessing US user data. TikTok has consistently asserted its independence from the Chinese government, while its parent company, ByteDance, has expressed no intentions of selling the business.

The Chinese government condemned the law as an act of bullying against a foreign entity and indicated its opposition to any forced sale. The White House described the law as a divestment rather than a ban, while declining further comment on the matter. Under the law’s provisions, TikTok faces removal from US app stores by January 2025 unless ByteDance divests its ownership, with a possibility of extension granted by President Biden.

In its legal challenge, TikTok argued that the mandated sale was unfeasible within the prescribed timeframe and unfairly targeted the platform. It highlighted previous unsuccessful attempts to ban TikTok and emphasized its substantial investments in addressing US concerns regarding data security. However, some experts criticized TikTok’s lawsuit as lacking seriousness in addressing national security issues, while others, including civil liberties advocates, raised concerns about potential violations of free speech rights.

The legal battle underscores broader tensions between the US and Chinese technology firms, exemplified by the ongoing restrictions imposed on companies like Huawei. Despite the controversy surrounding the law, its proponents remain steadfast in their conviction of TikTok’s perceived threat to national security, reflecting the broader geopolitical dynamics shaping tech policies between the two global powers.