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TikTok Fights Back Against Approaching Ban In Court

TikTok has asked a US judge for an injunction against its upcoming ban on September 27, saying the executive order violates its right to due process and its users’ right to free speech.

In a filing before a District of Columbia judge, TikTok argued that its platform provided a popular forum for creative expression and free speech for more than 100 million Americans, and likened the short video app to a “virtual town square”.

“Plaintiffs – as well as millions of Americans every day – engage in core protected speech on TikTok in pursuit of a wide variety of political, social, and cultural ends. The Prohibitions unlawfully restrict this speech in violation of the First Amendment.

“Furthermore, by prohibiting TikTok from operating in the United States without providing Plaintiffs notice or opportunity to be heard, the Commerce Department violated the due process protections of the Fifth Amendment,” it said.

The company also argued that it would suffer irreparable harm unless the Trump administration’s executive order – which will effectively see it banned in the US if it does not find an American company to buy it from its Chinese owner ByteDance – is not blocked.

“When the Prohibitions first take effect on September 27, 2020, hundreds of millions of Americans who have not yet downloaded TikTok will be shut out of this large and diverse online community – six weeks before a national election.

“And an American company that employs thousands of individuals will suffer devastating harm to its business, from which it cannot recover even if this Court concludes the government’s conduct was unlawful,” it said.

A proposed deal between ByteDance and US tech giant Oracle, which would bring Oracle on board as a “trusted technology partner” while still leaving ByteDance in charge of most of TikTok, is in doubt after Trump and Beijing respectively signalled they might not approve it.

TikTok’s argument is similar to one which led a judge to block a ban on WeChat, a messaging app owned by Chinese company Tencent, on First Amendment grounds.

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