TikTok Bill Sets Up Fight Over Free Speech

(ConservativeSense.com) – President Biden signed legislation on April 26 obliging Bytedance, owner of video-sharing internet platform TikTok, to sell the popular application or face a nationwide US ban. Experts say the legislation sets up a potential court battle, with TikTok officials already threatening to sue on free speech grounds.

Legal analysts say if the matter goes to court, the government must prove that the legislation does not infringe upon American citizens’ First Amendment rights and that there are no other ways to achieve the intended national security goals.

Challenges will be assigned to the US Court of Appeals, and TikTok will likely ask that the law not be enforced until appeals are heard and a decision reached. Lawyers say the legal arguments against the government may center on its apparent lack of concern regarding other platforms and their data collection practices.

For example, proponents of the bill said data collection by Bytedance, which is answerable to the Chinese government, is a national security threat, but the federal government has not taken similar actions against Facebook, which also collects user data. David Greene of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said if data collection is the overwhelming concern, then Congress should have introduced legislation applicable to all social media, rather than just TikTok.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) opposes the legislation, saying it stifles free expression and restricts public access to a widely-used information platform.

Nevertheless, federal agencies, including the FBI, say a ban is necessary to prevent the Chinese Communist Party from accessing the data of 170 million American TikTok users. FBI Director Christopher Wray told Congress that Bytedance is “controlled by the Chinese government,” but the company insists this is untrue.

In a recent post on the Chinese platform Toutiao, Bytedance said it has no intention of selling TikTok, regardless of the recent legislation. It confirmed it would challenge the US government in court and argued that forcing the sale under threat of prohibition is unconstitutional.

Copyright 2024, ConservativeSense.com