- The Washington Times - Monday, August 24, 2020

TikTok said Monday it will sue the Trump administration in federal court to fight President Trump’s attempted ban of the Chinese-owned social media app.

TikTok said Mr. Trump’s executive action was extreme, lacked due process and that the United States should not view TikTok as a national security threat.

“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,” reads a statement from TikTok. “In our complaint, we make clear that we believe the administration ignored our extensive efforts to address its concerns, which we conducted fully and in good faith even as we disagreed with the concerns themselves.”

Mr. Trump gave TikTok, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, until Sept. 15 to find an American owner to alleviate the government’s concerns or he would shut the app down. Microsoft has expressed interest in acquiring the platform, and Mr. Trump has spoken with the Seattle tech giant about its intentions. Other companies and investors have reportedly expressed interest as well.

Prior to taking executive action that would effectively ban TikTok in the United States, several federal government agencies prohibited the use of Tik Tok on government devices. The Senate passed legislation this month to ban TikTok from all federal government devices.

TikTok’s lawsuit is not the only threatened litigation over the ban that faces the Trump administration. TikTok employees this month began a fundraising push for litigation seeking an injunction against the ban that would allow TikTok’s American employees to still get paid. 

Over past year, TikTok has tried to put distance between its app, which it says has 100 million U.S. users, and its Chinese owners. It installed a former top Disney executive as its American CEO and named two other Americans chief security officer and general counsel. 

Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have shared concerns about TikTok that ranged from its vulnerability to censorship and misinformation campaigns to the safety of user data and children’s privacy. But the Trump administration has provided no specific evidence that TikTok has made U.S. users’ data available to the Chinese government. 

Instead, officials point to the hypothetical threat that lies in the Chinese government’s ability to demand cooperation from Chinese companies.

TikTok says it has not shared U.S. user data with the Chinese government and would not do so, and that it does not censor videos at the request of Chinese authorities.

⦁ This article is based in part on wire service reports.

• Ryan Lovelace can be reached at rlovelace@washingtontimes.com.

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