Los Angeles, Aug 24 (efe-epa).- TikTok, the popular video-sharing application owned by China-based ByteDance, filed a lawsuit Monday challenging President Donald Trump’s executive order barring the app from continuing to operate in the United States after Sept. 15.
Trump invoked the International Emergency Economic Powers Act to issue the Aug. 6 order, which pointed to the danger that the user data collected by TikTok could wind up with the Chinese government.
The order marked the first use of that law against a global technology firm. Previous applications of the act targeted terrorists, drug cartels and cyber-criminals.
In its court filing, TikTok said that the government based its action on “the speculative possibility that the application could be manipulated by the Chinese government,” while ignoring the “extraordinary measures” the company has adopted to protect the data of US users.
The data in question is stored in the US and Singapore and the company took the additional step of “erecting software barriers that help ensure that TikTok stores its US user data separately from the user data of other ByteDance products,” according to the suit filed in the US District Court for the Central District of California.
The CEO and other top executives of TikTok are US citizens residing in the United States.
Trump violated TikTok’s Fifth Amendment right to due process and threatened to infringe the app’s US users’ First Amendment right to free expression, the company said.
TikTok’s “data collection threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information – potentially allowing China to track the locations of Federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage,” Trump said in issuing the executive order.
Amid growing pressure from the White House and leaders of both parties in Congress, ByteDance was already in talks about a sale TikTok before the president issued the order.
ByteDance continues to negotiate with Microsoft and Oracle, among others, about the future of TikTok’s operations in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
“The spread in the United States of mobile applications developed and owned by companies in the People’s Republic of China (China) continues to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States,” the executive order says.
TikTok claims to have more than 100 million users in the US.
China’s foreign ministry maintains that Washington’s moves to force the sale of TikTok violate the principles of the World Trade Organization.
Dismissing the US government’s ostensible national security concerns, Beijing says that Trump’s offensive against TikTok is just the latest skirmish in the trade war between the world’s two largest economies.
In a related development, The Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Trump at a White House dinner in October 2019 that Chinese tech firms posed a direct threat to the US tech sector.
Zuckerberg, according to the unnamed sources cited by the Journal, said that US officials should prioritize clamping down on Chinese companies over regulating Facebook.
The White House dinner came after Zuckerberg raised concerns about TikTok – which competes with Facebook’s Instagram and Reels apps – in conversations with Sens. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican, and Chuck Schumer of New York, who leads the Democratic minority in the Senate. EFE