TikTok sues United States over “unconstitutional” ban bill

Dylan Horetski
TikTok logo on phone screen

TikTok has filed a lawsuit against the United States over a recently signed bill that requires ByteDance to either sell off its shares in TikTok, or face a ban in the country — calling it “unconstitutional.”

On April 24, 2024, President Joe Biden signed a bill into law that included the requirement for TikTok’s parent company ByteDance to sell its shares in the company within nine months, or be removed from mobile app stores in the US.

TikTok’s CEO Shou Zi Chew quickly responded to it being signed, saying that the potential ban infringes on citizens’ right to free speech and that the company plans to fight the law in court.

ByteDance has done just that on May 7, 2024, sharing its complaint about the “unconstitutional” bill on its blog.

“Congress has taken the unprecedented step of expressly singling out and banning TikTok: a vibrant online forum for protected speech and expression used by 170 million Americans to create, share,
and view videos over the Internet,” it reads.

“That law — the Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act (the “Act”) — is unconstitutional.” They went on to explain that the bill’s sponsors claim that the act is not a ban because it offers ByteDance the option to sell of its shares.

“However, the company says there’s no choice as the “qualified divesture” isn’t possible. “The “qualified divestiture” demanded by the Act to allow TikTok to continue operating in the United
States is simply not possible: not commercially, not technologically, not legally. And certainly not on the 270-day timeline required by the Act,” it says.

“There is no question: the Act will force a shutdown of TikTok by January 19, 2025, silencing the 170 million Americans who use the platform to communicate in ways that cannot be replicated elsewhere.”

ByteDance goes on to explain that the ban on TikTok is against the US’s First Amendment, which is the right to free speech and assembly in the country.

ByteDance has 270 days to divest its shares of TikTok, but this lawsuit may delay it from being enacted. Montana tried to ban the short-form video app in the state back in 2023, but a lawsuit from ByteDance has caused it to be held up in court since.