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TikTok Creators File Lawsuit to Block US Divestiture Law

TikTok Creators File Lawsuit to Block US Divestiture Law

May 14, 2024

TikTok Creators File Lawsuit to Block US Divestiture Law

A coalition of TikTok content creators has taken legal action, filing a lawsuit in federal court on Tuesday to challenge a new law that mandates the divestiture of the popular short video app TikTok or face a potential ban in the United States. The law, signed by President Joe Biden, targets TikTok's Chinese parent company, ByteDance Ltd., citing national security concerns over the potential for Chinese government access to user data.

The group of creators, who vary in background and political views, argue that TikTok provides a "unique and irreplaceable means to express themselves and form community," as stated in the lawsuit provided by their representing law firm, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP. According to the legal complaint, which was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the creators are seeking injunctive relief, asserting that the new law violates free speech rights and would effectively eliminate a communication platform integral to American life.

TikTok and ByteDance previously filed a similar lawsuit, arguing that the law infringes upon the U.S. Constitution, including First Amendment protections. The creators' legal challenge echoes this stance, with Ambika Kumar, a lawyer for the creators, claimed the importance of TikTok for self-expression, learning, and community-building. Kumar's statement highlighted the creators' intent to uphold not only their rights but also those of the approximately 170 million Americans who use the platform.

The lawsuit further contends that the ban represents an attack on free speech that contradicts foundational national principles. This legal move is not the first of its kind; TikTok creators filed a similar lawsuit in 2020 to prevent a previous attempt to ban the app and sued last year in Montana to block a state ban.

The law in question imposes a deadline of January 19 for ByteDance to divest TikTok or face exclusion from U.S. app stores like Apple and Google, as well as prevent internet hosting services from supporting the app. Despite the mandate, ByteDance has expressed no intention to sell TikTok, seeking instead to have the law declared unconstitutional.

The controversy over TikTok's links to China is not new, with scrutiny dating back to previous administrations. Former President Donald Trump also attempted to force a sale of TikTok through an executive order, which faced legal opposition and was ultimately blocked by judges. President Biden initiated a fresh review of Trump's actions upon taking office.

TikTok has invested more than $2 billion to separate its U.S. operations and agreed to oversight measures, including partnering with American company Oracle Corp., in response to data security concerns. While the platform provides a revenue-sharing model for creators based on performance and product purchases, many content creators depend on the app to attract audiences for brand sponsorship deals, a critical source of income.

Last year, Montana became the first state to enact a law banning TikTok, which was subsequently blocked by a federal judge who considered free-speech arguments raised by TikTok and creators. The Justice Department has yet to comment on the latest lawsuit.

Reuters Article

Bloomberg Article


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