TikTok officially files formal complaint in federal court over US executive order

Kip Kniskern

Over the weekend, TikTok let it be known that they would be suing the Trump Administration over its executive order banning the site from operating in the US. Today, they’ve followed through on that, detailing their complaint in a blog post. TikTok details a number of issues it has with the order, saying that it has taken “extraordinary measures” to protect US user data, including storing that data in US or Singapore databases, and creating barriers between TikTok and other ByteDance Ltd (TikTok’s parent company) properties.

The blog post goes on to note that TikTok’s CEO, Global Chief Security Officer, and its Genaral Counsel are all Americans based in the US, and not subject to Chinese law. TikTok’s main complaint is that the executive order did not follow due process, and did not meet the terms of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) on which the order is based:

By banning TikTok with no notice or opportunity to be heard (whether before or after the fact), the executive order violates the due process protections of the Fifth Amendment.

“The order is ultra vires because it is not based on a bona fide national emergency and authorizes the prohibition of activities that have not been found to pose ‘an unusual and extraordinary threat.'”

“…the actions directed in the August 6 executive order are not supported by the emergency declared a year earlier in Executive Order 13873.   

“That previous executive order was designed to address asserted U.S. national security concerns about certain telecommunications companies’ ability to abuse access to ‘information and communications technology and services’ that ‘store and communicate vast amounts of sensitive information, facilitate the digital economy, and support critical infrastructure and vital emergency services, in order to commit malicious cyber-enabled actions, including economic and industrial espionage against the United States and its people.’

“TikTok Inc. is not a telecommunications provider and it does not provide the types of technology and services contemplated by the 2019 executive order. Specifically, TikTok Inc. does not provide the hardware backbone to ‘facilitate the digital economy,’ and TikTok Inc. has no role in providing ‘critical infrastructure and vital emergency services.'”

How much this latest turn of events will affect any potential sale remains to be seen.