TikTok goes to court with more evidence to overturn the US ban law

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TikTok and its Chinese parent company ByteDance have filed a brief spelling out their lawsuit against the US government over the proposed ban. Filed in the US Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the brief calls the newly passed law to ban the app unconstitutional and a restriction on freedom of speech. A group of TikTok creators, who have separately sued the US government over the same matter, also filed a similar appeal.

TikTok and TikTok creators appeal in court against the US ban law

After mulling over it for years, the US government finally framed a law to ban TikTok. President Joe Biden signed the law on April 24, just a day after the Senate passed it. American lawmakers have national security concerns with the platform over its potential ties with the Chinese government, which the firm has always denied. TikTok has until January 19, 2025, to either sell its US operations or face a nationwide ban and exit the country.

Unsurprisingly, the company disagrees with the US government’s decision and has challenged the law in court. It filed a lawsuit seeking a ruling that blocks the law. A group of US-based TikTok creators who earn their livelihood from the app also filed a similar lawsuit. All of them argue that the proposed ban violates the First Amendment rights of Americans. They called the law an attempt to put an “extraordinary restraint on speech.”

The plaintiffs have now filed briefs doubling down on their arguments, providing the court with more evidence supporting their case. TikTok says the US government didn’t consider other options and rapidly moved forward with a law to ban the app. The firm adds that it provided American lawmakers “with an extensive and detailed plan to mitigate national security risks” but they ignored it and passed the law in a hurry.

“Never before has Congress expressly singled out and shut down a specific speech forum,” TikTok’s newly filed brief laments Congress for an unconstitutional law. “Never before has Congress silenced so much speech in a single act,” the brief continues in the same tone. “Congress gave this Court almost nothing to review. Congress enacted no findings, so there is no way to know why majorities of the House and Senate decided to ban TikTok.”

Oral arguments in the case will begin in September

The court will hear oral arguments in TikTok’s lawsuit against the US government’s ban law on September 16, 2024. Both parties have asked the court to expedite the case and announce its ruling by the first week of December. This is to ensure that TikTok gets enough time to appeal to the Supreme Court review if needed. As said earlier, the firm has until January 19, 2025, to finalize its next steps, whether to sell the app or exit the US.

President Joe Biden can extend the deadline, though. He may do that if he sees enough progress toward a divesture. However, it won’t be easy for ByteDance to sell TikTok’s US arm unless it decides to give the platform away cheaply. There aren’t many buyers who might be willing to spend billions of dollars on TikTok without getting access to its coveted recommendation algorithm, the key to its success.

A Chinese export law reportedly blocks the sale of the platform’s recommendation algorithm. So any buyer might have to develop a fresh algorithm from scratch, which could severely impact the user experience. TikTok has already denied that it is developing a US-only algorithm for a possible sale. For the time being, it is seemingly focused on blocking the law and living on to see more success in the US. Its newly filed brief contains hundreds of pages of communications with the US lawmakers explaining its measures to mitigate national security concerns. Time will tell what the court decides.

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