TikTok Pledges Constitutional Challenge To Possible Ban

Should Congress enact a proposed law that could result in a ban on the popular TikTok, the company plans to seek a court order blocking the measure as unconstitutional. 

Micheal Beckerman, TikTok's head of public policy for the Americas, reportedly said in a memo to employees that the company “will move to the courts for a legal challenge," if the bill is passed by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden.

"This is the beginning, not the end of this long process," Beckerman wrote, according to The Information.

TikTok hasn't yet responded to MediaPost's request for comment.

On Saturday, the House of Representatives passed a revised version of a bill that would prohibit web companies from distributing TikTok unless it's sold by China-based parent company ByteDance.

The original bill -- which was passed by the House in March -- would have required a sale within 180 days. The current version gives ByteDance an initial period of nine months to sell the app, and provides for a three-month extension.

The new bill is part of a larger package that includes aid to Ukraine and Israel, as well as a measure that would prohibit data brokers from selling people's sensitive information to foreign adversaries.

The Senate is expected to vote on the package this week.

Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), who expressed reservations about the original TikTok ban, said last week that she would support the revised measure.

“Extending the divestment period is necessary to ensure there is enough time for a new buyer to get a deal done,” she stated.

Digital rights groups criticize the bill, arguing that banning a communications platform would violate the First Amendment rights of millions of TikTok users.

“Longstanding Supreme Court precedent protects Americans’ First Amendment right to access information, ideas, and media from abroad,” Nadine Farid Johnson, policy director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, stated late last week.

The advocacy group Fight for the Future added on Monday that it was encouraging people who oppose the ban to “flood their representatives with calls they can't ignore or pretend are just from the TikTok lobby.”

“Millions of youth use TikTok to connect with each other, and to organize against injustice,” Lia Holland, campaign director for the group, stated. “They are making their voices heard at unprecedented volume against what would effectively amount to a ban on TikTok and legislators should pay attention and change course, especially if they're counting on the support of young people in the election this fall.”

Last year, U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy in Missoula, Montana blocked a law that would have banned TikTok in that state.

Molloy said in a written ruling that the ban likely violated the First Amendment for several reasons, including that it wasn't “narrowly tailored” to preventing China from accessing data about U.S. residents.

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