TikTok says it intends to sue the Trump administration over its plan to block the Chinese-owned app in the US, with a lawsuit expected to be filed in the coming week.
The lawsuit will accuse the White House of denying the company due process when the president issued an executive order on August 6. That order demanded transactions with the app be halted within 45 days, citing risks to national security from the capture of “vast swaths of information from its users”.
“Even though we strongly disagree with the Administration’s concerns, for nearly a year we have sought to engage in good faith to provide a constructive solution,” TikTok said on Saturday.
“What we encountered instead was a lack of due process as the Administration paid no attention to facts and tried to insert itself into negotiations between private businesses.”
In a separate order, on August 14, President Trump gave parent company ByteDance 90 days to divest its TikTok business in the US. Microsoft and Oracle are among the parties in talks to buy the app.
President Trump has suggested the US Treasury receive a “very large percentage” of proceeds from the sale.
TikTok added: “To ensure that the rule of law is not discarded and that our company and users are treated fairly, we have no choice but to challenge the Executive Order through the judicial system.”
The White House has yet to comment on TikTok’s legal action.
The lawsuit, which will specifically challenge the August 6 order, will probably pay particular attention to Mr Trump’s use of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. It gives the president a broad array of powers to regulate economic transactions in the case of a national emergency.
Enacted in 1977, the Act was first used to target foreign states and governments, but more recently has been invoked to impose sanctions on individuals and cybercriminals, according to a Congressional Research Service paper.
President Trump has repeatedly said the data TikTok gathers on its users could be used for espionage, and had been threatening a ban since July. TikTok has denied it shares data on international users with its parent company in Beijing.
The app, which has around 100m users in the US, is most popular with teenagers who share videos of dances, comedy and similar material. In June, a campaign that spread on TikTok was credited with inflating the expected turn out of a Trump re-election rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
A number of US-based employees of TikTok, concerned the August 6 order will mean a block on wages, have organised a grassroots legal campaign to ensure they still get paid. According to the group’s lawyer, Mike Godwin, the lawsuit, paid for via crowdfunding, will be filed next week.
Meanwhile, users of WeChat — another Chinese app targeted by a similar Trump executive order — have filed their own lawsuit calling the move to block its use unconstitutional. The Tencent-owned app is hugely popular with Chinese diaspora in the US.
Additional reporting by Hannah Murphy.
Get alerts on ByteDance when a new story is published