TikTok is suing the US to overturn a law that would outlaw the social media company.

Due to a rule that would prohibit TikTok and its Chinese parent firm ByteDance from using the popular video-sharing app unless it is sold to another company, the two are suing the United States, claiming that the measure violates the First Amendment.

A lengthy legal battle over TikTok’s future in the US may be initiated by the much anticipated lawsuit that was filed on Tuesday.

The well-known social video company claimed that the Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, which President Joe Biden signed as part of a larger $95 billion foreign aid package, is so “obviously unconstitutional” that the bill’s sponsors are attempting to frame it as a regulation of TikTok’s ownership rather than a ban. The US administration has never before singled out

a possible ban on social media, a move that proponents of free expression point out is more typical of authoritarian governments like China or Iran.

“In its lawsuit, ByteDance claimed that Congress had taken an unprecedented step by specifically naming and prohibiting TikTok, a thriving online platform for free speech and expression that is used by 170 million Americans to make, share, and watch videos on the Internet.” “For the first time in history, a rule passed by Congress prevents any American from engaging in a distinctive online community with over a billion members globally and puts a single, designated speech platform to an indefinite, nationwide ban.”

ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, is required by legislation to sell the site within nine months. In case a sale is already underway, the business will have an additional three months to finalize the agreement. According to ByteDance, the company “doesn’t have any plan to sell TikTok.” Beijing, however, would need to provide its approval before the business could divest, even though it had already expressed resistance to a forced sale of the platform.

In the complaint, TikTok and ByteDance contended that there isn’t actually an option.

They said that it is “just not possible—commercially, technologically, or legally—for TikTok to carry out the “qualified divestiture” required by the Act in order to for it to continue functioning in the United States.

“Without a doubt, the Act

will compel TikTok to shut operations by January 19, 2025, according to the lawsuit.

The parties contended that the First Amendment’s guarantee of their right to free speech should apply to them. They are requesting an order prohibiting Attorney General Merrick Garland from enforcing the Act, a declaration that the Act violates the U.S. Constitution, and any other remedies the court may find fit.

On Tuesday, the Justice Department chose not to comment on the lawsuit.

The battle over TikTok is occurring at a time when the United States and China are engaged in a fierce geopolitical competition, particularly in areas like data security and innovative technology, which are believed to be crucial to both nations’ economic might and security.

Law enforcement and administrative personnel, as well as parliamentarians in the United States from both parties,

worry that ByteDance may be forced to give up user data from Americans by Chinese authorities, or that the company may manipulate the algorithm used to create content in users’ feeds to influence public opinion. Additionally, a Rutgers University research that asserts TikTok material is either underrepresented or exaggerated because it supports Chinese government goals has been cited by some. The corporation disputes this claim.

The law’s opponents contend that there are other, easier methods for Chinese officials or other evil actors to obtain information on Americans, such as through commercial data brokers who rent or sell personal data. They point out that no proof has been made public by the US government demonstrating that TikTok shared US user data with Chinese authorities or altered its algorithm to favor China. Additionally, they claim that attempts to

A ban on the app might go against American free speech rights.

TikTok’s challenge to the ban is expected to be successful, according to Jameel Jaffer, executive director of Columbia University’s Knight First Amendment Institute.

In a printed statement, Jaffer stated, “The First Amendment means the government can’t restrict Americans’ access to ideas, information, or media from abroad unless there is a very good reason for it—and there isn’t a very good reason here.”

Although TikTok has won previous First Amendment challenges, it’s unclear if the current complaint will be resolved similarly.

“This federal law’s bipartisanship may lead judges to defer to a Congressional finding that the company is a national security risk,” according to Gautam Hans, an associate director of

the Cornell University First Amendment Clinic. But it’s hard to see why the courts should uphold such a novel rule in the absence of a public debate about the precise dangers.

Contributors to this report included AP Technology Writer Barbara Ortutay in San Francisco and AP Business Writer Michelle Chapman in New York.

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