US TikTok ban gets challenged in District court by ByteDance

The TikTok logo displayed on a smartphone screen with a computer keyboard in the background.
(Image credit: Primakov/Shutterstock)

Despite growing popularity among fans and users, TikTok has been fighting an uphill battle against the United States government for quite some time. 

The most recent salvo came in the form of President Biden signing a law in April that demanded ByteDance, TikTok’s Chinese parent company, sell the app within the year or be banned in the U.S. Somehow, this is seemingly the only bill that has found agreement in both houses of Congress and with the executive branch across multiple sessions.

ByteDance isn’t taking the ban lying down. According to the Washington Post, the TikTok owner is challenging the ban in a new legal filing in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which is the main venue for appeals of administrative and constitutional law. 

The law that Biden signed banning TikTok designated the D.C. court as the “exclusive jurisdiction” for any challenge. If ByteDance loses this current case, the only way the law can be overturned is in the Supreme Court. 

ByteDance has been fighting bans from the United States government since 2020, when then-President Donald Trump attempted to ban the app via an executive order. The basis for Trump’s order was a 1977 law that expanded presidential power over international commerce during a national emergency.

Trump’s attempted ban was shot down in multiple courts, including a district court in Washington D.C., a federal court in Pennsylvania, and another federal judge in Montana. When Biden’s cabinet took effect in 2021, they declined to pursue Trump’s ban. 

The case filing by ByteDance involves two issues: First Amendment Issues and National Security issues. 

ByteDance is claiming that Congress’ law violates the First Amendment. According to the filing, “Congress has never before crafted a two-tiered speech regime with one set of rules for one named platform and another set of rules for everyone else.”

One of the claims against TikTok is that China is collecting TikTok user data for espionage and propaganda. The United States has yet to show evidence or prove that any of that is actually happening. 

ByteDance has claimed that it is developing a national security plan to safeguard American data in the U.S., which federal authorities will oversee. 

One aspect of the challenge claims that Congress members admitted they were motivated to ban the app because of videos criticizing the Israel-Gaza genocide, among other issues.

A separate lawsuit from TikTok users and creators is making its way through the system. It also argues in favor of the First Amendment. The plaintiffs have contended that the law blocks self-expression and small businesses. 

Of course, you can find the Biden administration, various politicians and even potentially Trump’s campaign using TikTok. 

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Scott Younker
West Coast Reporter

Scott Younker is the West Coast Reporter at Tom’s Guide. He covers all the lastest tech news. He’s been involved in tech since 2011 at various outlets and is on an ongoing hunt to build the easiest to use home media system. When not writing about the latest devices, you are more than welcome to discuss board games or disc golf with him.