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TikTok, parent company sue U.S. over legislation, state First Amendment free speech violation

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ByteDance is taking American lawmakers to the courtroom in a federal lawsuit against United States legislation to ban TikTok if it is not sold to a non-Chinese company.

As reported Tuesday by Reuters, ByteDance’s lawsuit seeks to block the law that would force the sale of a social media app used by 170 million Americans, or face a ban in the U.S.

The lawsuit argues that the law violates the U.S. Constitution on multiple grounds of First Amendment free speech protections. President Joe Biden signed the legislation into law on April 24 and gave ByteDance until January 19, 2025 to sell TikTok or face an American ban.
“For the first time in history, Congress has enacted a law that subjects a single, named speech platform to a permanent, nationwide ban,” the lawsuit states.
Divesting of TikTok by ByteDance is not possible, according to the lawsuit, because 170 million Americans would lose a platform that cannot be reproduced.
Lawmakers in America and the Biden Administration have expressed concern for the social media app’s Chinese-based ownership, which threatens national security. Reuters reported, however, that the White House and Department of Justice declined comment on the lawsuit. American lawmakers, including Virginia’s Sen. Mark R. Warner, chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, are worried that China could use TikTok to spy on Americans through data.
The legislation is “the only way to address the national security threat posed by ByteDance’s ownership of apps like TikTok,” said U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, top Democrat on a House committee on China. “Instead of continuing its deceptive tactics, it’s time for ByteDance to start the divestment process.”
Fifty-eight percent of ByteDance is owned by global institutional investors, the lawsuit argues, including BlackRock, General Atlantic and Susquehanna International Group. Only 21 percent is owned by the company’s Chinese founder and 21 percent by employees, including approximately 7,000 Americans.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.