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TikTok Set To Challenge Bill Banning It In The U.S. If It Passes Into Law

TikTok – the video hosting app company – is bracing for a legal showdown if the U.S. Congress pass the divest-or-ban bill. The bill seeks to force its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, to divest its ownership stake or the app will be banned.

Recently the bill passed in the House of Representatives with 360-58 votes – suggesting widespread support among lawmakers. A concurrent vote is expected in the Senate, as early as Tuesday.

President Joe Biden has signaled willingness to sign the bill once it reaches his table.

American government is citing national security concerns. It says the Chinese firm could be harvesting critical data about U.S. citizens for their communist home government.

Reacting to this threat, TikTok is preparing a possible challenge in court if the bill passes. TikTok’s Head of Public Policy, Michael Beckerman, announced this legal challenge in a memo to members of staff. It argues the law violates First Amendment rights.

Beckerman says the bill is not just a threat to TikTok but also to rights of millions of Americans.

The bill, he says, is a “clear violation” of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment and would have “devastating consequences” for the 7 million small businesses on the platform. “We’ll continue to fight. This is the beginning, not the end of this long process,” Beckerman wrote in the memo.

He alleged the legislation was “an unprecedented deal worked out between the Republican Speaker and President Biden.

Experts Side With TikTok

TikTok is not alone in opposing the bill. Some experts question the constitutionality of singling out TikTok for a ban. They suggest such targeted action could infringe on the rights of Americans using the platform.

Banning TikTok would selectively target one platform, and the speech rights of its 170 million users would be collateral damage, Kate Ruane, director of the Center for Democracy & Technology’s Free Expression Project, said in a statement. “The data security issues for TikTok are the same for other platforms. The way to address them is to enact a comprehensive consumer privacy law.”

It’s not the first time TikTok has been embroiled in legal battles over its U.S. operation. It has won legal victories against other laws that have sought to ban its app. Last December, a federal judge blocked Montana’s attempt to ban TikTok. It was the first attempt of any state in America to do so. The judge said the law likely violated the First Amendment. Trump administration tried to force ByteDance to sell TikTok or face a ban. That too was ruled unconstitutional by federal courts on same First Amendment grounds.

Despite the threats over its U.S. business, TikTok appears to remain unfazed. The app recently secured exclusive deals with artists like Taylor Swift and ticketing providers like AXS. And earlier this month, TikTok announced it was returning as the official entertainment partner for the 2024 Eurovision Song Contest.

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Iheanacho Achugbu
Iheanacho Achugbuhttps://joliba.com.ng
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