TikTok Users Sue U.S. Government, Cite Free Speech

TikTok content creators have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government, alleging the possible ban of the social media platform infringes upon the First Amendment.

The petitioners include a Texan rancher, a sports commentator, skincare business owners, an LGBTQ advocate from Arizona, and others.

According to the lawsuit, TikTok provides users a “unique and irreplaceable means to express themselves and form community.”

“They bring this lawsuit to preserve their First Amendment rights and the rights of countless others, which are threatened by the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act,” the suit reads.

Last month, President Joe Biden signed legislation that compels TikTok’s parent company to sell its operations in the U.S. or face a ban.

“The First Amendment to our Constitution precludes Congress from censoring speech because of its content, viewpoints, editorial practices, or identity of speakers or publishers,” the lawsuit adds. “To the extent the government may claim the Act’s ban is necessary to protect Americans’ data, it has tried that strategy before and lost. Two federal district courts have found that such concerns do not justify a ban. And rightly so. The concerns are speculative, and even if they were not, they could be addressed with legislation much more narrowly tailored to any purported concern.”

Petitioners have requested that the court declare the Act unconstitutional and affirm their First Amendment rights.

The lawsuit follows another suit brought against the U.S. government by the social media platform.

“There is no question: the Act will force a shutdown of TikTok by January 19, 2025, silencing the 170 million Americans who use the platform to communicate in ways that cannot be replicated elsewhere,” the lawsuit reads, according to The Daily Mail.

The suit notes that TikTok has spent $2 billion in security measures to protect U.S. user data.

It adds that the Chinese government has “made clear that it would not permit a divestment of the recommendation engine that is a key to the success of TikTok in the United States,” the lawsuit states, meaning that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) would not allow the sale of the algorithm that highlights the platform’s success.

“China also enacted an additional export control law that ‘gives the Chinese government new policy tools and justifications to deny and impose terms on foreign commercial transactions,’” the filing explains, suggesting that the social media site does not operate independently of the CCP. “China adopted these enhanced export control restrictions between August and October 2020, shortly after President Trump’s August 6, 2020 and August 14, 2020 executive orders targeting TikTok.”