TikTok is getting ready to sue the Donald Trump administration in response to the government’s ongoing efforts to get the Chinese company-owned social media platform out of the United States.
Reports first surfaced on Friday that TikTok was planning to file a lawsuit against the Trump administration over ongoing efforts to force its parent company, ByteDance, to sell to an American interest or cease U.S. operations. Most recently, this effort took the form of a Trump executive order giving ByteDance until mid-November to comply.
In a sign of how serious the situation is for TikTok, the company responded to Friday’s reports with confirmation. A lawsuit is happening. And it’s happening soon.
“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. 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,” a TikTok spokesperson told Mashable in an email.
“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 company added that the legal filing will likely happen during the coming week.
The Trump administration’s concern with TikTok stems from the social media platform’s parent company being based in China. Although TikTok points out that all U.S. user data is stored in the U.S., there are concerns about Chinese officials having access to sensitive data on U.S. citizens.
While TikTok and ByteDance both have insisted that such a scenario isn’t possible, the concerns aren’t entirely without merit. China’s internet security laws do allow the government unfettered access to the records of Chinese businesses. And while TikTok doesn’t actually operate in China and keeps user data stored in Virginia, that information is backed up at a location in Singapore.
Of course, there’s also been some suggestion that personal animosity plays a role in the notoriously thin-skinned Trump’s aggressive stance toward TikTok. Reports in June suggested that an anti-Trump movement on TikTok played a key role in inflating the expected attendance numbers for a heavily publicized but lightly attended Tulsa, Okla. campaign rally. TikTok is also the site of comedian Sarah Cooper’s viral success jokingly imitating Trump’s public appearances.
Whatever the reason(s) may be, administration concerns surrounding TikTok culminated in late July when word first emerged that Trump was weighing a U.S. ban. Microsoft quickly emerged as a likely contender for a theoretical acquisition of the platform’s American operations by a U.S. interest.
Then, in early August, Trump smacked TikTok and WeChat (owned by Tencent) with executive orders giving U.S. interests 45 days to stop doing business with the Chinese company. He followed it up a week later with another executive order giving ByteDance 90 days to sell TikTok, formally establishing the mid-November deadline.
Reports emerged shortly after the first executive order that TikTok was mulling a lawsuit against the Trump administration. Now, a week after the second executive order was signed, TikTok is clearly preparing to make good on that threat.