An Indian mobile user browses through the Chinese owned video-sharing 'Tik Tok' app on a smartphone in Bangalore on June 30, 2020. - TikTok on June 30 denied sharing information on Indian users with the Chinese government, after New Delhi banned the wildly popular app citing national security and privacy concerns. "TikTok continues to comply with all data privacy and security requirements under Indian law and have not shared any information of our users in India with any foreign government, including the Chinese Government," said the company, which is owned by China's ByteDance. (Photo by Manjunath Kiran / AFP) (Photo by MANJUNATH KIRAN/AFP via Getty Images)

TikTok Sues Trump Administration Over Ban

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Donald Trump made good earlier this month on his threats to ban TikTok, the popular social media app that he claims is a risk to Americans because of its connection to and development in China. Well, kind of. Trump used an executive order to ban transactions with ByteDance, TikTok’s Chinese parent company, and claimed he was able to do so based on emergency sanction power, and claiming the app was a threat to national security. Now, TikTok and ByteDance are fighting back with a lawsuit against the President’s administration saying he can’t do that.

The lawsuit alleges several grounds for why Trump can’t use sanctions to limit the relationship between ByteDance and TikTok, and thus implement a de facto ban on the app. TikTok and Bytedance claim that the order is a violation of due process—meaning that the government is taking something from them without a fair hearing. And yeah … that sounds like a pretty valid claim. But the plaintiffs are also claiming that Trump lacks the power to do this in the first place.

TikTok claims that the sanctions authority Trump is using for this attack doesn’t extend as far as he’s saying it does, especially since ByteDance and TikTok have worked with the government. Also because this action represents a potential limitation on free speech that isn’t outweighed by the national security concerns Trump is citing, he—once again—can’t do this.

The complaint also gets straight to it and calls out that this is a politically motivated attack,

The executive order is not rooted in bona fide national security concerns … independent national security and information security experts have criticized the political nature of this executive order, and expressed doubt as to whether its stated national security objective is genuine.

While there is certainly some validity to the concerns about TikTok’s ability to gather data from users and where that data might be going, it’s clear that Trump’s main problems with the app are not about that. Trump hates anything to do with China because he is both a racist and a puppet of Russia in their ongoing disputes with Beijing; and secondly, he just doesn’t like that TikTok is an app entirely populated with people that mock and antagonize him.

Many of Trump’s alleged concerns about TikTok would be mitigated if the American company was purchased from ByteDance by another company, and in this case, Microsoft is already considering buying the app. Trump has threatened to shutdown TikTok if the app does sell by September 15. It’s not clear if he can do this, but he seems to want to push as sale, maybe so he can make money off of it.

Yes, Trump has an angle here (of course he does), and that’s concerning. Being the greedy, bad businessman that he is, Trump has said that he’d want any sale of TikTok to benefit the US government—that is should be “providing proper economic benefits to the United States, including the United States Treasury.”

We don’t know what that means, but maybe Trump is Trump enough that he thinks he gets a commission if TikTok sells? As with everything he does, including the executive order at issue here, there’s no logic or thought behind this. It’s all just spite and greed. And it will all, hopefully, fall apart under legal scrutiny if and when it comes before a court.

And with this suit, it’s only a matter of time before it does. Tick tock …

(via: The Verge, image: MANJUNATH KIRAN/AFP via Getty Images)

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Jessica Mason
Jessica Mason (she/her) is a writer based in Portland, Oregon with a focus on fandom, queer representation, and amazing women in film and television. She's a trained lawyer and opera singer as well as a mom and author.