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TikTok says Trump’s ban attempt shows ‘no adherence to the law’

TikTok has hit back at President Trump’s executive order to ban all transactions with its parent company ByteDance from September 20th, saying it shows “no adherence to the law.” The Chinese firm says the executive order was issued “without any due process” after a year in which it claims it has tried to address the US government’s concerns over its app.

TikTok suggests it intends to challenge the order in US courts. “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.” It adds that the order “risks undermining global businesses’ trust in the United States’ commitment to the rule of law.”

The response comes after Trump signed an executive order attempting to address national security concerns leveled at TikTok. The order says that Chinese-developed apps like TikTok “threaten the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.”

President Trump took the unusual move of citing the International Emergency Economic Powers Act along with the National Emergencies Act as providing the authority for the order. However, sanctions against individuals and corporations, like placing them on the “entity list,” normally come from the Commerce Department rather than the White House, or via the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. Both processes appear to have not been used in ByteDance’s case.

TikTok says the order sets a “dangerous precedent for the concept of free expression and open markets.” It adds that it’s tried to engage constructively with the US government over the issues raised, and has offered solutions like opening up its algorithm and providing more transparency about its moderation policies. “We have made clear that TikTok has never shared user data with the Chinese government, nor censored content at its request,” TikTok says.

“We even expressed our willingness to pursue a full sale of the US business to an American company,” TikTok says, referring to the news that it is in discussions with Microsoft over a possible sale of the service’s operations in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. These discussions are due to complete on September 15th, around five days before the executive order is due to come into effect.

TikTok’s full statement is below:

TikTok is a community full of creativity and passion, a home that brings joy to families and meaningful careers to creators. And we are building this platform for the long term. TikTok will be here for many years to come.

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.

We made clear our intentions to work with the appropriate officials to devise a solution to benefit our users, creators, partners, employees, and the broader community in the United States. 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, and concerns about the collection of data that is industry standard for thousands of mobile apps around the world. 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. We even expressed our willingness to pursue a full sale of the US business to an American company.

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.

We want the 100 million Americans who love our platform because it is your home for expression, entertainment, and connection to know: TikTok has never, and will never, waver in our commitment to you. We prioritize your safety, security, and the trust of our community – always. As TikTok users, creators, partners, and family, you have the right to express your opinions to your elected representatives, including the White House. You have the right to be heard.

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