TikTok threatens legal challenge to Trump’s executive order

The Trump administration’s crackdown on Chinese apps was further escalated yesterday with an executive order banning transactions with Tencent and TikTok owner ByteDance. That hasn’t gone down well, as TikTok threatens a legal challenge to the order, saying that it is unlawful.

The company said it was ‘shocked’ by the order, which shows ‘no adherence to the law’ …

The company made the statement this morning.

We are shocked by the recent Executive Order, which was issued without any due process. For nearly a year, we have sought to engage with the US government in good faith to provide a constructive solution to the concerns that have been expressed. What we encountered instead was that the Administration paid no attention to facts, dictated terms of an agreement without going through standard legal processes, and tried to insert itself into negotiations between private businesses […]

There has been, and continues to be, no due process or adherence to the law. The text of the decision makes it plain that there has been a reliance on unnamed “reports” with no citations, fears that the app “may be” used for misinformation campaigns with no substantiation of such fears

This Executive Order risks undermining global businesses’ trust in the United States’ commitment to the rule of law, which has served as a magnet for investment and spurred decades of American economic growth. And it sets a dangerous precedent for the concept of free expression and open markets. We will pursue all remedies available to us in order to ensure that the rule of law is not discarded and that our company and our users are treated fairly – if not by the Administration, then by the US courts.

The company says that it shares no data with the Chinese government.

We have made clear that TikTok has never shared user data with the Chinese government, nor censored content at its request. In fact, we make our moderation guidelines and algorithm source code available in our Transparency Center, which is a level of accountability no peer company has committed to.

Yesterday’s executive order placed further pressure on TikTok to agree to sell its business to Microsoft in a bizarre deal which Trump demands would somehow see a payment made to the US Treasury.

The Chinese government had already threatened unspecified reprisals against the US, even before Trump added fuel to the fire with a 5-point plan to ‘clean’ Chinese apps from US app stores.

TikTok separately threw some shade at Facebook when Instagram copied its short video format.

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