Biden admin, TikTok ask court to fast-track pivotal ruling to decide fate of social media platform

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The Justice Department and TikTok on Friday asked a U.S. appeals court to fast-track the social media platform’s lawsuit challenging a potential ban. 

Under a law signed by President Biden, TikTok’s China-based parent company ByteDance must divest TikTok’s U.S. assets by Jan. 19, else the short-form video website will be banned. TikTok, ByteDance and a group of TikTok content creators have filed a lawsuit to stop the forced sale, arguing divestiture is not possible by the deadline. 

On Friday, both the plaintiffs and the Justice Department asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to rule by Dec. 6 so that if the case is appealed to the Supreme Court, a decision would come before the January deadline. 

“In light of the large number of users of the TikTok platform, the public at large has a significant interest in the prompt disposition of this matter,” the Department of Justice and TikTok petitioners said in a court filing, according to Reuters. 

TIKTOK SUES TO BLOCK US LAW REQUIRING SALE TO NON-CHINESE COMPANY

On Tuesday, a group of TikTok creators filed suit to block the law that could ban the app used by 170 million Americans, saying it has had “a profound effect on American life.”

Last week, TikTok and parent company ByteDance filed a similar lawsuit, arguing that the law violates the U.S. Constitution on a number of grounds including running afoul of First Amendment free speech protections.

The lawsuit argues that divestiture “is simply not possible: not commercially, not technologically, not legally. … 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.”

Critical to ByteDance’s argument is that the Chinese government “has made clear that it would not permit a divestment of the recommendation engine that is a key to the success of TikTok in the United States.”

TIKTOK’S FORCED SALE FROM CHINA WILL BE ‘MOST SIGNIFICANT’ NATIONAL SECURITY STEP, SAYS FCC COMMISSIONER

A general view of the TikTok offices in Culver City, California

The lawsuit goes on to say that TikTok has already spent $2 billion on efforts to protect the data of American TikTok users.

TikTok said that a fast-tracked schedule would allow its lawsuit to be resolved without a request for a court order to postpone the Jan. 19 deadline. 

Both parties asked the court to schedule arguments for as soon as practical in September. The Justice Department said it may file classified material in secret with the court to support the White House’s arguments that TikTok’s Chinese ownership must end on national security grounds. 

TIKTOK’S FORCED SALE FROM CHINA WILL BE ‘MOST SIGNIFICANT’ NATIONAL SECURITY STEP, SAYS FCC COMMISSIONER

Tik-Tok

The law prohibits app stores like Apple and Alphabet’s Google from offering TikTok and bars internet hosting services from supporting TikTok unless ByteDance divests the platform. 

The Biden administration has clarified that the legislation is not seeking to ban TikTok, but rather end its involvement with the Chinese Communist Party.

READ MORE FROM FOX BUSINESS

In 2020, then-President Trump was blocked by the courts in his bid to ban TikTok and Chinese-owned WeChat, a unit of Tencent, in the United States. Trump, the presumptive 2024 Republican presidential candidate, has reversed course and said on Monday that Biden was “pushing” for a ban on TikTok and would be the one responsible if a ban were imposed, urging voters to take notice.

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew said the company is prepared for this legal battle last month, calling the legislation a “ban on TikTok.” 

Reuters contributed to this report.

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