With the rise in anti-China sentiments resonating across the world, ByteDance owned TikTok is striving to survive in a few countries. The US government banned major applications like WeChat and TikTok over accusations of sharing data with the Chinese government. However, ByteDance maintains that it has never shared any data with the government and has no intention to do so.
Regardless, the app is facing increasing scrutiny in many countries. Recently, President Donald Trump declared that the app poses a threat to national security, foreign policy, and economy of the US. In addition, on August 6, he issued an Executive Order, according to which the company has either to sell its US operations or withdraw from the market within 45 days.
In response to the executive order, TikTok is planning to sue the US government. The company may file a lawsuit as soon as Tuesday this week.
“We will pursue all remedies available to us in order to ensure that the rule of law is not discarded and that our company and our users are treated fairly – if not by the Administration, then by the U.S. courts,” TikTok said.
The lawsuit will propose that Trump’s executive order is unconstitutional, as the company was not given enough time to respond to the order. The company also claims that the allegations concerning data security are groundless. According to the company, the government has no hard proof, which suggests that the social media app provides US citizen’s data to the Chinese government.
TikTok has declared all allegations against it as unsubstantiated and completely false. “It’s based on pure speculation and conjecture. The order has no findings of fact, just reiterates rhetoric about China that has been kicking around,” a person involved in the matter told American National Public Radio (NPR).
The White House declined to comment on the expected lawsuit but defended the president’s executive order. “The Administration is committed to protecting the American people from all cyber-related threats to critical infrastructure, public health and safety, and our economic and national security,” said White House spokesman Judd Deere.
However, it is unclear if the President is in his right to pass such an order against TikTok. The order was issued under International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which arms the President with broad authority to impose economic sanctions when presented with an “unusual and extraordinary threat,” such as a risk to national security.
Although, there are few exceptions to the Act. For instance, the authority cannot be used to regulate or prohibit either “personal communication” or the sharing of film and other forms of media.
TikTok might leverage this clause saying, personal communication and media sharing is the primary use of the app.
Meanwhile, Microsoft is in talks with ByteDance to acquire its US-based operations. However, no deal has been signed yet. Recently, Twitter has expressed interest in TikTok’s US operations. Twitter had preliminary discussions about a “combination” with TikTok.
However, Trump also said that the US should get a piece of the TikTok sale. “I told Microsoft, and frankly others if they want to do it, if they make a deal for TikTok — whether it’s the 30% in the United States or the whole company — I say it’s OK, but if you do that, we’re really making it possible, because we’re letting you operate here,” Trump said. “So the United States Treasury would have to benefit also,” he added.
TikTok will soon have to decide the company’s fate, as after the 45-day period, carrying out business with TikTok could result in a $300,000 fine per violation and “willful” offenders could even risk criminal prosecution.
Shortly after issuing TikTok executive order, Trump issued a similar order for WeChat, a group chat app owned by Tencent, a Chinese-based company.