US President Donald Trump issued an executive order in August demanding TikTok owner ByteDance sell TikTok to American investors by 12 November. Washington has claimed that the popular viral video service has been used by Beijing to spy on Americans. TikTok, ByteDance and Beijing have emphatically denied the allegations.
TikTok parent company ByteDance has filed a petition with the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia challenging the Trump executive order ordering it to divest from the video-sharing social networking service by Thursday, 12 November.
In its appeal, ByteDance states that the US government’s arguments that TikTok is a security threat are unlawful, and a violation of the company’s rights under the US Constitution.
Furthermore, the company argues, although the White House tentatively approved a divestment deal reached in September under which Walmart and Oracle would oversee TikTok’s US operations, it has not received a response for a requested 30-day extension on the divestment deadline from the administration’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).
“For a year, TikTok has actively engaged with CFIUS in good faith to address its national security concerns, even as we disagree with this assessment,” the company said in a statement. “In the nearly two months since the President gave his preliminary approval to our proposal to satisfy those concerns, we have offered detailed solutions to finalise that agreement – but have received no substantive feedback on our extensive data privacy and security framework,” it added, referring to the Walmart/Oracle deal.
The Trump administration stepped up its attacks against TikTok, which has more than 100 million American users and 1,500 US employees, as part of a broader crackdown on Chinese-owned tech companies amid growing trade and geopolitical tensions between Washington and Beijing.
Along with the divestment order, the Trump administration earlier sought to ban the app from being downloadable from Google and Apple’s app stores, although a federal judge blocked that order shortly before it would have gone into effect.
Neither the Treasury Department nor the Department of Justice has clarified what legal recourse the US would have if ByteDance did not complete its divestment by 12 November.
TikTok has denied all of the allegations made against it by the Trump administration, including the claim that it is being used by the Chinese Communist Party to harvest Americans’ data for intelligence-gathering purposes.
Last week, ByteDance reported that it would relocate about 10,000 employees to China before the end of the year amid ongoing tech wars in the US and India. The company has also announced plans to hire around 3,000 engineers over a three-year period for expanded global operations in regions including Europe, Canada, the US and Singapore.
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