Chinese video-sharing app TikTok, which has scared the world of data breach, has pleaded before a US judge to block the Donald Trump administration from prohibiting the social media network. According to court documents filed late on 18 September, TikTok and its parent company, ByteDance Ltd, filed a complaint in a Washington federal court, challenging the recent prohibitory move.
The US Commerce Department had announced a ban yesterday, blocking people in the United States from downloading Chinese-owned messaging app WeChat and TikTok starting 20 September. The move has been in the making since August — when the American government was inspired by India to take action against the alleged Chinese espionage via mobile applications.
While Facebook owner Mark Zuckerberg said recently that he had warned the administration against TikTok long ago, Microsoft as well as Twitter are interested in buying out the app so that it does not remain a Chinese venture any more.
TikTok and ByteDance alleged in their complaint that the ban in the US was politically motivated. TikTok said the ban would violate the company’s First Amendment rights. However, legal experts say the First Amendment, by definition, does not protect businesses like TikTok. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances,” the First Amendment holds.
US President Trump, who has vowed to even what he calls the trade imbalance with China, issued an executive order on 6 August that prohibited US transactions with the Chinese owners of messaging app WeChat and TikTok.
Both ByteDance and TikTok are seeking a “declaratory” judgment and an order “invalidating and preliminarily and permanently enjoining the Prohibitions and the August 6 order,” according to the complaint.
The White House did not immediately respond when Reuters contacted it for comment early on Saturday.
The Chinese app, which has over 100 million users in the United States, said the ban would “irreversibly destroy the TikTok business in the US.”