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TikTok ban in US to be challenged

The company and its US employees are planning to take Donald Trump’s administration to court.

File photo
File photo
Image: PA Images

TIKTOK AND ITS US employees are planning to take Donald Trump’s administration to court over his sweeping order to ban the popular video app.

The employees’ legal challenge to Trump’s executive order will be separate from a pending lawsuit from the company that owns the app.

However both challenges will argue that the order is unconstitutional, Mike Godwin, an internet policy lawyer representing the employees, said.

Last week Trump ordered sweeping but vague bans on dealings with the Chinese owners of TikTok and messaging app WeChat, saying they are a threat to US national security, foreign policy and the economy.

The TikTok order would take effect in September, but it remains unclear what it will mean for the 100 million US users of the app, many of them teenagers or young adults who use it to post and watch short-form videos.

It is also unclear if the order – which would prohibit “any transaction by any person” with TikTok and its Chinese parent company ByteDance – will make it illegal for TikTok to pay its roughly 1,500 workers in the US.

Godwin said: “Employees correctly recognise that their jobs are in danger and their payment is in danger right now.”

TikTok said in a statement last week that it was “shocked by the recent Executive Order, which was issued without any due process”.

Microsoft

Microsoft is in talks to buy parts of TikTok, in a potential sale that is being forced under Trump’s threat of a ban.

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White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany defended the US president’s TikTok and WeChat orders yesterday, telling reporters he was exercising his emergency authority under a 1977 law enabling the president to regulate international commerce to address unusual threats.

“The administration is committed to protecting the American people from all cyber threats and these apps collect significant amounts of private data on users,” she said, adding that the Chinese government can access and use such data.

TikTok said it spent nearly a year trying to engage in “good faith” with the US government to address these concerns.

The company said: “What we encountered instead was that the Administration paid no attention to facts, dictated terms of an agreement without going through standard legal processes, and tried to insert itself into negotiations between private businesses.”

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