TikTok creators sue U.S. government, say divestiture law violates First Amendment

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TikTok creators sue U.S. government, say divestiture law violates First Amendment

TikTok creators gather before a press conference to voice their opposition to the “Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act,” pending crackdown legislation on TikTok in the House of Representatives, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 12, 2024.

Craig Hudson | Reuters

Eight TikTok creators sued the U.S. government Tuesday to block the recently passed law that forces China-based owner ByteDance to divest of the social media app or face a ban in the U.S., arguing that the law violates the First Amendment, an attorney representing the group said in a post on X.

In the filing shared by attorney Davis Wright Tremaine, the group says that the law, which gives ByteDance nine months to find a buyer for the app, “undermines the nation’s founding principles and free marketplace of ideas.”

The law “promises to shutter a discrete medium of communication that has become part of American life, prohibiting Petitioners from creating and disseminating expressive material with their chosen editor and publisher,” the lawsuit says.

TikTok itself sued the United States last week over the legislation, also invoking a free speech argument in its suit. TikTok and ByteDance argue that the divesture mandated by the law is “simply not possible: not commercially, not technologically, not legally,” they say in their lawsuit.

After Congress passed the TikTok legislation in a series of bills that also provided aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, President Joe Biden signed it into law on April 24. Critics say the Chinese-owned app poses a national security threat, specifically raising concern over the company’s data-collection practices.

One of the creators on the most recent suit is Brian Firebaugh, a rancher in Texas. According to the filing, Firebaugh earns income from the TikTok Creator Fund and from selling products promoted on the app.

“Without access to TikTok, Firebaugh would need to get a different job and pay for daycare instead of raising his son at home,” the lawsuit says. “If you ban TikTok, you ban my way of life,” Firebaugh is quoted as saying in the suit.

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