TikTok has petitioned a federal judge to immediately invalidate Executive Order 13942, which will effectively ban the video-sharing app in the U.S. unless parent company ByteDance sells to an American buyer.
TikTok U.S. security manager Patrick S. Ryan recently submitted the request to a California federal court, and Digital Music News obtained an exclusive copy of the corresponding filing. Previously, Ryan explained (via a TikTok video) that he planned to personally target the executive order in court, but emphasized that the process would bring with it substantial legal fees. The lawyer and former Google exec then launched a GoFundMe campaign to cover these courtroom costs, and at the time of this writing, the effort had raised about $26,300 of its $30,000 goal.
Ryan’s motion for preliminary injunction quickly introduces the requests outlined in the above-mentioned TikTok video, including preventing the executive order from prohibiting “the payment of wages and salaries to Plaintiff or any other U.S. employee of TikTok.” Additionally, the 20-page-long filing asks the court to bar the government from levying “civil or criminal penalties on” TikTok or its employees before Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross elaborates upon the executive order’s outlawed “transactions.”
From there, the legal text attempts to establish TikTok’s independence of its Beijing-based parent company, ByteDance – “TikTok is a U.S. company and does not even operate in China” – and states that the accusations concerning privacy and national security violations were made “without any evidence that any such actions or activities have ever occurred.” Furthermore, the lawsuit alleges that the “unlawful and unconstitutional abuse of executive power” was implemented as a political move due in part to TikTok users’ reserving spots at a June Trump rally, a spoof that may have affected attendance.
The latter half of the filing expands upon the aforementioned claims from the perspective of Ryan and other employees (not TikTok itself). Government officials haven’t publicly responded to the complaint, and it’s unclear whether the court will approve the request for a prompt invalidation of the executive order.
The security of TikTok users’ personal data has long been a matter of debate and concern; in late 2019, well before the issuance of last month’s executive order regarding TikTok, the U.S. Army joined the Navy in banning the app. Plus, several parties have filed privacy-centered lawsuits against the ultra-popular platform, which iOS 14 revealed was snooping on users’ clipboards every few seconds.
On the international front, India banned TikTok (and 58 other China-owned apps) in late June, citing national security threats. Earlier this week, the Indian government proceeded to prohibit an additional 158 other apps with Chinese links.