TikTok to fight against ban in US

TikTok plans to contest a new US law it considers “unconstitutional,” as it could force the sale or ban of the popular social media app. The legislation, signed by President Biden, requires TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, to sell its US operations within nine months or face a nationwide ban. The law aims to address concerns that TikTok could share user data with the Chinese government, a claim TikTok has consistently denied.

In a message to TikTok users, CEO Shou Zi Chew assured them that the company would fight the law in court. He argued that TikTok has invested heavily to ensure the safety of US user data and that the app operates free from external manipulation. Chew called for users to share their personal stories of how TikTok has positively impacted their lives, emphasizing that a ban would stifle their voices and creativity.

The law was part of a broader package that also included military aid for countries like Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, and other US allies in the Indo-Pacific region. It gained substantial support in Congress, with 79 senators voting in favor and 18 against. Senator Marco Rubio, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, described allowing a Chinese-owned app to be widely used in America as “dangerously short-sighted.” He supported the requirement for ByteDance to divest TikTok’s US operations, considering it a positive step for American security.

ByteDance, however, denies any ties to the Chinese government, highlighting that 60% of the company is owned by global investment firms. Legal experts suggest that the law faces significant challenges, including a lengthy court battle that could extend to the Supreme Court, possibly delaying a TikTok ban for several years. The popularity of TikTok, especially among younger users, further complicates matters, as it could trigger legal arguments around freedom of speech and expression.

Other experts point out the logistical difficulties of a forced sale, given the high price tag and regulatory scrutiny involved. Regulatory expert Jennifer Huddleston from the Cato Institute indicated that a nine-month deadline might not be enough time for a transaction of this magnitude, which could slow down the process. This also raises questions about who could afford to buy and operate TikTok, considering the likely multi-billion dollar valuation.

Apart from US legal challenges, TikTok faces scrutiny in Europe, with the company agreeing to suspend its TikTok Lite rewards program in France and Spain. European Commissioner Thierry Breton called the feature “toxic and addictive,” especially for children, warning that it could lead to a block unless changes were made. The EU has stated that its investigation into TikTok’s practices will continue.

TikTok users in the US, particularly content creators and small business owners, now face uncertainty regarding their future on the platform. The threat of a ban has been a looming concern, and the recent law could have a significant impact on their livelihoods and digital expression.

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