The legal arm wrestling will take place. TikTok, a subsidiary of the Chinese group ByteDance, unsurprisingly filed a complaint on Monday against Montana, the American state which enacted a law last week to ban the application next year.
This ban “violates the constitution of the United States in many ways”, says the company, and in particular the first amendment which guarantees “freedom of expression”, argues the document consulted by AFP.
Many US lawmakers believe the platform of short, entertaining videos, frequented by 150 million Americans, allows Beijing to spy on and manipulate users. The platform has always denied these accusations. But the Montana parliament adopted a text in mid-April which orders mobile application stores (Apple and Google) to no longer distribute TikTok from January 1, 2024, while Congress and the White House are considering plans to similar law.
Two weights, two measures with other social networks
“TikTok exercises editorial judgment, a constitutionally protected right, to distribute and promote content created by third parties,” the company’s attorneys say. They also argue that the US state does not have the legal power to ban the app on national security grounds, a matter that falls under federal jurisdiction.
The complaint also refers to a principle of fairness. “Instead of regulating social networks in general, the law bans TikTok, and only TikTok for punitive reasons (…) based on speculative concerns about data security and content moderation”, argue the lawyers.
The elected officials of Montana also accuse TikTok of harmful effects on the health of the youngest (addiction, depression). Some Democratic representatives have replied that other social networks, such as Instagram, deserve to be regulated on all these subjects.
Powerful civil rights group ACLU has also accused the state of censorship. this application to express themselves, find information and promote their small business, in the name of anti-Chinese sentiment,” Keegan Medrano, an official with the local branch of the ACLU, said in a statement on Wednesday.
Shortly after the governor of this northwestern US state, Greg Gianforte, signed the law into law, five TikTok users filed an appeal in federal court in Montana seeking the reversal of the decision.