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TikTok is suing the U.S. over ‘obviously unconstitutional’ law that would

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TikTok and its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, are suing the U.S. over a law that would ban the popular video-sharing app unless it’s sold to another company, arguing that it relies on vaguely painting it as a threat to national security to get around the First Amendment.

The widely expected lawsuit filed on Tuesday may be setting up what will likely be a protracted legal fight over TikTok’s future in the United States —and could end up before the Supreme Court. If TikTok loses, it says it will be forced to shut down next year. 

The company alleged the law, which U.S. President Joe Biden signed as part of a larger $95 billion US foreign aid package, is so “obviously unconstitutional” that the sponsors of the Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act are trying to portray the law not as a ban, but as a regulation of TikTok’s ownership.

It’s the first time the U.S. government has singled out a social media company with a potential ban, which free speech advocates note is more common in repressive regimes such as Iran or China. 

“Congress has taken the unprecedented step of expressly singling out and banning TikTok: a vibrant online forum for protected speech and expression used by 170 million Americans to create, share, and view videos over the Internet,” ByteDance said in its suit.

“For the first time in history, Congress has enacted a law that subjects a single, named speech platform to a permanent, nationwide ban, and bars every American from participating in a unique online community with more than one billion people worldwide.”

WATCH | Could there be a TikTok ban in Canada?: 

Trudeau asked about potential U.S. TikTok ban

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is declining to comment on the U.S. closing in on a bill that could ban TikTok — but says the federal government will continue to ‘look closely’ at the safety of Canadians.

The law requires ByteDance to sell the platform within nine months. If a sale is already in progress, the company will get another three months to complete the deal. ByteDance has said it “doesn’t have any plan to sell TikTok.”

But even it wanted to divest, the company would have to get a blessing from Beijing, which previously opposed a forced sale of the platform and has signaled its opposition this time around.

TikTok and ByteDance argued in the lawsuit that is really isn’t being given a choice. 

“The ‘qualified divestiture’ demanded by the act to allow TikTok to continue operating in the United States is simply not possible: not commercially, not technologically, not legally,” they said.

Under the act, TikTok will be forced to shut down by Jan. 19, 2025, according to the lawsuit. The parties argued that they should be protected by the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of expression. 

WATCH | India is poised to ban TikTok. What can we learn? 

What can the U.S. learn from India’s TikTok ban?

The U.S. government is poised to ban TikTok for 170 million users unless the social media…

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