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TikTok accuses US of ‘extraordinary intrusion on free speech rights’

TikTok accuses US of ‘extraordinary intrusion on free speech rights’

TikTok has accused the US of an “extraordinary intrusion on free speech rights”.

The firm hit out in a lawsuit aiming to block an American law that would ban the video app in the country unless it is sold by its Chinese parent company.

In court documents filed with the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, TikTok said the sale requirement was “simply not possible: not commercially, not technologically, not legally. And certainly not on the 270-day timeline required by the Act”.

It added the move had unfairly singled out TikTok – creating a “two-tiered speech regime with one set of rules for one named platform, and another set of rules for everyone else”.

The social media company said not only was the US move an “extraordinary intrusion on free speech rights” of the company, but also its 170 million American users.

It added the US had put forward only “speculative” concerns to justify the measure and asked the court to block it.

US president Joe Biden signed the bill into law last month, citing national security worries.

Washington claims TikTok’s Chinese ownership raises the risk data on US users could fall into the hands of the Chinese government or be used for propaganda.

TikTok has maintained it is independent of the government, while parent company ByteDance has said it has no plans to sell the business.

The Chinese government has criticised the law as “economic bullying” from the US and said it would oppose a sale.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the law was “not a ban”, but was instead a “divestment”.

Under the US law, app stores would be barred from offering TikTok in America starting in January 2025 unless parent company ByteDance found a buyer. Biden could extend that deadline by 90 days if talks are making progress.

TikTok says it has spent more than $2bn in an effort to address US concerns, creating safeguards on US data.

The law aimed at TikTok is part of a number of actions the US has taken against Chinese technology firms as tensions reach fever pitch between the world’s two biggest economic superpowers.

America’s Department of Commerce has also confirmed it had revoked permissions that had allowed US companies to export certain goods to Chinese technology giant Huawei.

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