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TikTok files last-minute lawsuit against Trump administration to stave off looming ban

TikTok files last-minute lawsuit against Trump administration to stave off looming ban


The latest order banning downloads violates free speech protections, the company says

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

TikTok and parent company ByteDance filed a lawsuit late Friday against the Trump administration to try to fend off a ban on new downloads of the app set to take effect Sunday, The Wall Street Journal reported.

TikTok says in the lawsuit that the Trump administration’s decision to ban new downloads of the app, announced Friday, violates free speech protections. The administration, which includes the Commerce Department, “took this extraordinary action of prohibiting a popular communication and information-sharing platform without affording its owners … due process of law, and for political reasons rather than because of any ‘unusual and extraordinary threat’ to the United States,” according to the suit.

It’s not the first time TikTok has argued that the Trump administration acted against it without due process. The administration called for a TikTok ban earlier this year over what it said were data security concerns, and demanded that ByteDance sell TikTok US operations to an American company by September 15th. TikTok filed a suit against President Trump in August, arguing that Trump’s original order did not provide any evidence that TikTok was a national security threat to the US.

Beijing-based ByteDance has been in talks with several US companies in recent weeks, working on a plan to create a new entity, TikTok Global, to address the Trump administration’s concerns about security. Oracle and Walmart are the remaining candidates with a shot at a stake in the new TikTok company.

“We’ve already committed to unprecedented levels of additional transparency and accountability well beyond what other apps are willing to do, including third-party audits, verification of code security, and US government oversight of US data security,” TikTok said in a statement Friday.

The US is TikTok’s second-largest market outside of China following a ban in India, according to analytics platform Sensor Tower, averaging about 7.6 million installs per month from the App Store and Google Play in 2020. TikTok added 247,000 new installs Friday, marking a 12 percent increase from Thursday, Sensor Tower’s data showed.