SAN FRANCISCO — TikTok sued the U.S. authorities on Monday, accusing the Trump administration of depriving it of due course of when President Trump used his emergency financial powers to challenge an govt order that can block the app from doing transactions within the nation.
The go well with, which was filed within the Federal District Court for the Central District of California, represents TikTok’s most direct problem to the White House and escalates an more and more bitter again-and-forth between the favored video app and American officers.
President Trump has repeatedly stated that TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese web firm ByteDance, poses a nationwide safety menace due to its Chinese ties. On Aug. 6, he issued an govt order to ban transactions with the app inside 45 days. Per week later, he issued a separate govt order giving ByteDance 90 days to divest from its American belongings and any knowledge that TikTok had gathered within the United States.
“We do not take suing the government lightly, however we feel we have no choice but to take action to protect our rights, and the rights of our community and employees,” the corporate stated in its go well with. “Our greater than 1,500 workers throughout the U.S. pour their hearts into constructing this platform each day,” the corporate stated, noting that it deliberate to rent greater than 10,000 extra staff throughout eight states within the coming years.
Relations between the United States and China have soured in current months over rifts in geopolitics, know-how and commerce. The marketing campaign has been partly provoked by China’s extra assertive posture, but in addition Mr. Trump’s need to persuade voters that he’s robust on China. As a part of that, Mr. Trump’s advisers have zeroed in on know-how corporations, which they are saying are beholden to the Chinese authorities by way of safety legal guidelines.
Mr. Trump’s first govt order in opposition to TikTok attracts its authorized authority from the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which allows the president to regulate economic transactions in a national emergency. Past administrations have used it to sanction foreign governments, as well as drug kingpins and hackers, but have never used it against a global technology company.
Jason M. Waite, a partner at Alston & Bird, said that courts would probably be reticent to challenge the president on national security grounds, but that such a legal challenge might end up curtailing the powers of the president. “I do think the U.S. should be concerned about having to defend I.E.P.P.A. actions and the impact that could have on the authority of a future president.”
TikTok argued that the Trump administration “failed to follow due process and act in good faith, neither providing evidence that TikTok was an actual threat, nor justification for its punitive actions,” the company said in a blog post explaining the grounds for its lawsuit. Further, the company claims that the purported national security threat identified by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States were based on “outdated news articles” and did not address the documentation provided by TikTok demonstrating the security of user data.
One of the Trump administration’s chief concerns has been the storage of American user data on foreign servers. But in its complaint, TikTok said it had taken “extraordinary measures to protect the privacy and security of TikTok’s U.S. user data,” which included storing American users’ data outside of China on servers in the United States and Singapore. The company said it has also erected “software barriers” that store U.S. user data separately from the data kept on other products and companies owned by ByteDance.
The company also said that many of its top personnel — including its chief executive, general counsel and global chief security officer — are all in the United States and are not subject to Chinese law. And further, content moderation across the TikTok app is led by a team based in the United States, operating independently from China.
The executive orders against TikTok have resulted in ByteDance exploring a sale of the popular video app, which is used by millions of teenagers and influencers. The company is in talks with multiple American firms, including Microsoft and Oracle, for a sale of at least parts of its business. TikTok is continuing to negotiate a potential sale while it fights the U.S. government in court.
Another Chinese tech company that the Trump administration has targeted as part of its clampdown is Huawei, the giant maker of smartphones and telecommunications equipment. Huawei has also tried to use the American legal system to push back, though not always successfully.
Last year, the company sued the U.S. government over a spending law that prohibited federal agencies and contractors from using Huawei equipment, saying that its constitutional rights had been violated. A federal judge in Texas ruled in the government’s favor this year.
Huawei also sued the Federal Communications Commission late last year after the agency barred American mobile carriers from using government subsidies to buy the company’s gear. That case is still being heard.
This is a developing story and will be updated.
Mike Isaac reported from San Francisco and Ana Swanson reported from Washington. Raymond Zhong contributed reporting from Taipei, Taiwan.