TikTok files legal brief challenging ban

TikTok argued in a legal brief filed Thursday that the new law potentially banning the application from the United States is unconstitutional and should be overturned.

TikTok and its Chinese-based parent company, ByteDance, filed the lawsuit last month against the U.S. government shortly after President Biden signed the Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversaries Act. In their first legal briefs, TikTok’s lawyers argued that the law is “unprecedented” and violates the First Amendment.

“This law is a radical departure from this country’s tradition of championing an open Internet, and sets a dangerous precedent allowing the political branches to target a disfavored speech platform and force it to sell or be shut down,” the legal brief states.

“The Constitution does not allow Congress to single out one speech platform, make no findings, announce no justifications, ignore less restrictive alternatives, and discriminate based on speaker and content. The Act is unconstitutional and must be enjoined,” the brief continues.

The bipartisan legislation gives ByteDance 270 days to sell TikTok to a new company that will be allowed to operate it in the U.S. If not, the app will be banned from American networks and online application stores under the new law.

The 99-page legal brief argues that a divestiture could take years. It also pushed back on the law singling out TikTok instead of other applications.

The attorneys said the bill “ignores many applications with substantial operations in China that collect large amounts of U.S. user data, as well as the many U.S. companies that develop software and employ engineers in China, all of which pose the same purported risks.”

They also filed a draft of a national security agreement it offered to the U.S. government in 2022 that aimed to address some of their concerns. The legal brief noted that the agreement was never signed, but that TikTok started implementing some of the measures outlined in the agreement.

The legal brief said the agreement “would guard against foreign manipulation of TikTok’s content, including through third-party monitoring of TikTok’s content moderation practices, recommendation engine, and other source code.”

The Hill has reached out to the Justice Department for comment.

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