yesEmily BirnbaumNone

Get access to Protocol

I’ve already subscribed

Will be used in accordance with our Privacy Policy


TikTok sues the Trump administration

TikTok is suing the Trump administration for violating due process, misusing the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and rushing its national security investigation for political reasons.

Trump's Twitter account on a phone in front of the TikTok logo

TikTok is suing the Trump administration for violating due process, misusing the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and rushing its national security investigation for political reasons.

Image: Nikolas Kokovlis/NurPhoto via Getty Images

TikTok on Monday sued the U.S. government over President Trump's recent executive order threatening to ban the social media platform.

TikTok is suing the Trump administration for violating due process, misusing the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and rushing its national security investigation for political reasons. The company says it will move for a preliminary injunction on the TikTok ban by Sept. 20.

"To be clear, we far prefer constructive dialogue over litigation," the company wrote in a blog post announcing the lawsuit. "But with the executive order threatening to bring a ban on our U.S. operations — eliminating the creation of 10,000 American jobs and irreparably harming the millions of Americans who turn to this app for entertainment, connection and legitimate livelihoods that are vital especially during the pandemic — we simply have no choice."

The company's argument is a little wonky. But here's the tl;dr: TikTok told a federal court in California that the Trump administration violated the law and the constitution when it announced an imminent ban on one of the most popular social media platforms in the world.

Here are five key points from the lawsuit:

    1. "The order is ultra vires because it is not based on a bona fide national emergency and authorizes the prohibition of activities that have not been found to pose 'an unusual and extraordinary threat.'" TikTok thinks the government doesn't really have the authority to ban the app because there's scant public evidence to prove that it meets the threshold under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, the law that Trump used to justify the ban.
    2. "CFIUS [the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States] never articulated any reason why TikTok's security measures were inadequate to address any national security concerns, and effectively terminated formal communications with plaintiffs well before the conclusion of the initial statutory review period." Here, TikTok is alleging that something was fishy with the national security review that preceded the executive. TikTok says CFIUS, the body that had been investigating TikTok for the past year, did not address the fact that TikTok set up extensive safeguards around U.S. user data and totally cut off communication before they were supposed to.
    3. "On its face, the executive order fails to identify any unusual and extraordinary threat posed by TikTok — or any actual national security threat at all." TikTok says the executive order mostly relies on hearsay and "unsubstantiated" claims to build the case against TikTok under the IEEPA. But TikTok is not convinced.
    4. "The president's actions clearly reflect a political decision to campaign on an anti-China platform." TikTok says this is more of a campaign ploy than anything, which undermines the legitimacy of the whole order.
    5. "Because the executive order is broader than necessary to serve any governmental interest, the order violates TikTok Inc.'s First Amendment rights." Some scholars say TikTok's strongest argument might lie in the First Amendment, as any ban would curtail the speech of millions of Americans. The company's trying its hand at that case.

    Making the economy work for Black entrepreneurs

    Funding for Black-owned startups needs to grow. That's just the start.

    "There is no quick fix to close the racial wealth and opportunity gaps, but there are many ways companies can help," said Mastercard's Michael Froman.

    Photo: DigitalVision/Getty Images

    Michael Froman is the vice chairman and president of Strategic Growth for Mastercard.

    When Tanya Van Court's daughter shared her 9th birthday wish list — a bike and an investment account — Tanya had a moment of inspiration. She wondered whether helping more kids get excited about saving for goals and learning simple financial principles could help them build a pathway to financial security. With a goal of reaching every kid in America, she founded Goalsetter, a savings and financial literacy app for kids. Last month, Tanya brought in backers including NBA stars Kevin Durant and Chris Paul, raising $3.9 million in seed funding.

    Keep Reading Show less
    Michael Froman
    Michael Froman serves as vice chairman and president, Strategic Growth for Mastercard. He and his team drive inclusive growth efforts and partner across public and private sectors to address major societal and economic issues. From 2013 to 2017, Mike served as the U.S. trade representative, President Barack Obama’s principal adviser and negotiator on international trade and investment issues. He is a distinguished fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of the board of directors of The Walt Disney Company.
    Sponsored Content

    Building better relationships in the age of all-remote work

    How Stripe, Xero and ModSquad work with external partners and customers in Slack channels to build stronger, lasting relationships.

    Image: Original by Damian Zaleski

    Every business leader knows you can learn the most about your customers and partners by meeting them face-to-face. But in the wake of Covid-19, the kinds of conversations that were taking place over coffee, meals and in company halls are now relegated to video conferences—which can be less effective for nurturing relationships—and email.

    Email inboxes, with hard-to-search threads and siloed messages, not only slow down communication but are also an easy target for scammers. Earlier this year, Google reported more than 18 million daily malware and phishing emails related to Covid-19 scams in just one week and more than 240 million daily spam messages.

    Keep Reading Show less
    Transforming 2021

    Blockchain, QR codes and your phone: the race to build vaccine passports

    Digital verification systems could give people the freedom to work and travel. Here's how they could actually happen.

    One day, you might not need to carry that physical passport around, either.

    Photo: CommonPass

    There will come a time, hopefully in the near future, when you'll feel comfortable getting on a plane again. You might even stop at the lounge at the airport, head to the regional office when you land and maybe even see a concert that evening. This seemingly distant reality will depend upon vaccine rollouts continuing on schedule, an open-sourced digital verification system and, amazingly, the blockchain.

    Several countries around the world have begun to prepare for what comes after vaccinations. Swaths of the population will be vaccinated before others, but that hasn't stopped industries decimated by the pandemic from pioneering ways to get some people back to work and play. One of the most promising efforts is the idea of a "vaccine passport," which would allow individuals to show proof that they've been vaccinated against COVID-19 in a way that could be verified by businesses to allow them to travel, work or relax in public without a great fear of spreading the virus.

    Keep Reading Show less
    Mike Murphy

    Mike Murphy ( @mcwm) is the director of special projects at Protocol, focusing on the industries being rapidly upended by technology and the companies disrupting incumbents. Previously, Mike was the technology editor at Quartz, where he frequently wrote on robotics, artificial intelligence, and consumer electronics.

    Latest Stories