Although the clock is ticking, pardon the pun, TikTok is not going down without a fight.
Per Bloomberg and Reuters, the video-sharing app and its Chinese parent company, Bytedance, filed a complaint in a Washington federal court on Friday aiming to block the Trump administration’s upcoming ban, which is set to take effect on September 20. The ban, announced by the U.S. Commerce Department earlier that day, will prevent any new downloads or updates to the app in the U.S. as of Sunday but will continue to allow users to access the app until November 12 if they already had it downloaded prior to September 20.
The Trump administration said that TikTok has until November 12 to resolve the national security concerns it has about the app. To recap, the administration believes that Chinese intelligence agencies could order TikTok to hand over U.S. user data, a claim that the app strongly denies. If it resolves these concerns, the prohibitions could be lifted.
In the complaint, Bloomberg reported, TikTok purportedly alleges that U.S. President Donald Trump exceeded his authority with the ban and enacted it for political reasons rather than to stop an “unusual and extraordinary threat” to the U.S. The complaint also reportedly maintains that the ban violates TikTok’s First Amendment freedom of speech rights, according to Bloomberg.
TikTok also apparently claims that it had offered alternatives — perhaps a reference to its ongoing negotiations with Oracle — to the president’s ban to address U.S. security concerns, only for the Commerce Department to mandate “the destruction of TikTok in the United States.”
Maybe it’s just me, folks, but all of the end-of-the-world language and antics we’re seeing from Epic, Apple and TikTok just remind me of Netflix dramas. Don’t me wrong; it is one of my favourite genres. I’m just not used to seeing them in real life.
Gizmodo reached out to TikTok to ask for a copy of the complaint, but the company had not provided a copy by the time of publication. However, TikTok did send along its comment on the administration’s decision to ban the app.
In its statement, TikTok said that it was committed to protecting the privacy and safety of its 100 million U.S. users.
“In our proposal to the US Administration, 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,” a TikTok spokesperson said. “Further, an American technology provider would be responsible for maintaining and operating the TikTok network in the US, which would include all services and data serving US consumers.”
The company added that it would continue to challenge the “unjust executive order” which it argues was enacted without due process and threatens to “deprive the American people and small businesses across the US of a significant platform for both a voice and livelihoods.”
The complaint is the latest in the Trump-TikTok-China drama that has put the internet on edge over the past few weeks. Ironically, preventing users from downloading TikTok app updates is likely creating a bigger mess than the one it is purportedly preventing (unconfirmed potential Chinese spying).
How? As Gizmodo reported, after the ban is instituted, TikTok developers won’t be able to patch known security vulnerabilities, essentially allowing any hacker, large and small, to attack American users. Honestly, there was only one phrase that came to mind after all of this: Well, shit.