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TikTok Vows ‘We Will Fight’ After Biden Signs Sale Order

After Biden’s swift presidential endorsement, attention is now turning to whether TikTok can win a legal fight against the divestment order

TikTok has said it will launch a legal challenge against the forced sale of its unit in the United States (file Reuters image).


China’s TikTok says it will fight the move by US lawmakers for its parent company to sell or ban the US operations of its popular short-video app.

With President Joe Biden signing a hard-fought package of bills on foreign aid, which included the divest-or-ban order on TikTok, the Chinese company now has nine to 12 months to either challenge the move in court – or sell its profitable US unit.

It appears to have already opted for the former, saying on X (formerly Twitter): “This unconstitutional law is a TikTok ban, and we will challenge it in court.”


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“We believe the facts and the law are clearly on our side, and we will ultimately prevail. The fact is, we have invested billions of dollars to keep US data safe and our platform free from outside influence and manipulation.”

The firm, owned by Chinese tech conglomerate Bytedance, claimed a ban in the US would “devastate seven million businesses and silence 170 million Americans.”

The forced sale of TikTok’s US operations could also face resistance from China, if Beijing wants to block the sale or export of the group’s technology (some of which was initially developed in the US).

Meanwhile, any move to buy TikTok will be challenging, as analysts say it could cost tens of billions of dollars.


Aid for Ukraine, Israel, Gaza

The TikTok law was tacked on to a package of legislation that also provides billions of dollars of new US aid to Ukraine for its war with Russia.

The latter achievement was a rare bipartisan victory for the president as he seeks reelection and ended months of wrangling with Republicans in Congress.

The bill includes $61 billion in aid to Ukraine and $26 billion for Israel, as well as $1 billion in humanitarian assistance to Gaza and $8 billion to counter China’s military might.

Biden said he had approved an initial $1 billion in weapons supplies for Ukraine and that the flow of these arms would start within hours. He thanked House Speaker Mike Johnson, the top Republican in Washington, for breaking the deadlock on the legislation.

Biden also signed a separate bill tied to the aid legislation that bans TikTok in the US if its owner, ByteDance, fails to divest the popular short video app over the next nine months to a year.

The social media platform is particularly popular with left-leaning young Americans, a group crucial to Biden’s victory in November.

Congress’s stalemate on the Ukraine aid bill ended when the Republican-controlled House of Representatives abruptly changed course and approved four bills that included funding for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and other US partners in the Indo-Pacific on Saturday.

On Tuesday evening, the US Senate followed the Lower House in passing the aid bill that will bolster Ukraine’s defence, after months in which it has suffered setbacks in its war with Russia that supporters blame on the delay in getting the additional US funding.


Focus turns to upcoming legal fight

Given the sudden turnaround, and Biden’s swift presidential endorsement on Wednesday, attention is now turning to whether TikTok can win a legal fight against the divestment order.

Legal experts have said Congress cannot impose an outright ban on the TikTok app because of the US Constitution’s First Amendment on the right to freedom of speech – unless it proves that it poses an imminent national security risk.

“Lawmakers acknowledge this and contend that the proposed legislation is not an outright ban, but rather a narrow expansion of presidential authority to better regulate the influence of foreign governments in the tech sector,” Rolling Stone said in a recent report.

Justice Department and senior intelligence officials warned lawmakers recently that China may be using TikTok to influence US elections, because the app is seen to have the capacity to influence Americans’ views and beliefs.

Another key question is whether TikTok’s legal challenge would be supported by the American Civil Liberties Union and other tech and civil rights groups that oppose the divestment order.

These groups issued a letter to Congress in March which said that the move against TikTok would “trample on the constitutional right to freedom of speech of millions of people in the United States.”

TikTok, they said, “enables its users to discuss their opinions, share their hobbies, make art, and access news from down the street and around the world. Jeopardizing access to the platform jeopardizes access to free expression.”

But it’s not just TikTok that could face this fight.

For the new bill will reportedly create a process under which the president can designate other social media apps with ties to foreign governments as a national security risk – and force divestment.

A rocky road lies ahead.


  • Jim Pollard with Reuters



ByteDance, TikTok’s $7m Lobbying Bid to Derail US Ban – CNBC

Top US Republican Senator Backs Forced Sale of TikTok

TikTok Ban Would be Hypocrisy, Apple Co-founder Says – CNN

China Says US TikTok Bill an ‘Act of Bullying’ That Will Backfire

TikTok Ban Would Help ‘Enemy of the People’ Facebook: Trump

TikTok: Dark Side to the Fun App?


Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years.


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