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ByteDance alleges US ‘signaling of TikTok’ is unconstitutional

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ByteDance alleges US 'signaling of TikTok' is unconstitutional

New legal documents from Chinese technology company ByteDance have challenged the US government’s “unconstitutional designation of TikTok,” revealing new details about failed negotiations over a potential ban on the platform.

Legislation signed in April by Joe Biden gives ByteDance until January 19 to sell TikTok’s US assets or face a ban. ByteDance claims in its new filings that such a divestment “is not technologically, commercially or legally possible” and accuses the US government of refusing to engage in serious talks to reach a deal after 2022.

“Never before has Congress silenced so much speech in a single act,” said the brief presented by TikTok.

The proposed ban is the culmination of years of national security concerns among US lawmakers, who fear China could access Americans’ data or spy on them through the app. The Biden administration has said it wants ByteDance to sell TikTok, rather than ban the app entirely in the US, which the company says is not feasible.

The proposed legislation would prohibit app stores, such as those run by Apple and Google, from offering the app unless ByteDance sells it. It also prohibits internet hosting services from supporting TikTok in case it is not sold. Together, such measures would effectively ban use of the app within the US.

In the documents, ByteDance lawyers recounted lengthy negotiations between the company and the US government, which they say ended abruptly in August 2022. The company also released a redacted version of a draft agreement. national security of more than 100 pages to protect the data of TikTok users in the US and says it has spent more than $2 billion on the effort.

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The draft agreement included giving the US government a “kill switch” to suspend TikTok in the country at the government’s sole discretion if the company did not comply with the agreement, and says the US demanded that the code TikTok source will be taken from China.

“This administration has determined that it would rather try to shut down TikTok in the United States and eliminate a platform of expression for 170 million Americans, rather than continue working on a practical, feasible and effective solution to protect American users through an enforceable law. . agreement with the US government,” TikTok lawyers wrote to the US Justice Department in an April 1 email made public Thursday.

The Justice Department declined to comment on the email, but said last month that the law “addresses critical national security concerns in a manner consistent with the First Amendment and other constitutional limitations.” He said he would defend the legislation in court.

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia will hold oral arguments on lawsuits filed by TikTok and ByteDance throughout with TikTok users on September 16. TikTok’s future in the United States may depend on the outcome of the case, which could affect how the government uses its new authority to clamp down on foreign-owned apps.

TikTok says any divestment or separation, even if technically possible, would take years and argues the law runs counter to Americans’ free speech rights. Additionally, it says the law unfairly singles out TikTok for punitive treatment and “ignores many apps with substantial operations in China that collect large amounts of data from American users, as well as the many American companies that develop software and employ engineers in China.” .

“This law is a radical departure from this country’s tradition of defending an open Internet and sets a dangerous precedent that allows political branches to attack a disfavored expression platform and force it to sell it or shut it down,” ByteDance and TikTok argue in the documents . , which also included statements from lawyers for a group of eight creators of the platform.

TikTok content creators say the law would violate their free speech rights. They also stated that it is clear that there are no imminent national security risks because the law “allows TikTok to continue operating for the rest of this year, even during an election that the same president who signed the bill says is existential for our democracy”.

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