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TikTok Prepares to Battle U.S. Ban with Legal Action

As tensions escalate over its potential ban in the United States, TikTok is shifting to a more combative approach to safeguard its operations. Michael Beckerman, TikTok’s head of public policy, has informed employees that the company is prepared to initiate a lawsuit if the impending bill, which aims to force a sale or ban the app from U.S. stores, becomes law.

This development follows the approval of a revised version of the legislation by the House on April 20. The bill, now part of a broader package of foreign aid bills, awaits the Senate’s decision. If passed, it would proceed to President Joe Biden, who has indicated his willingness to sign it into law.

Beckerman’s memo to TikTok staff described the legislative effort as an “unprecedented deal” between Republican Speaker and President Biden, suggesting a readiness for a prolonged legal battle. He emphasized that the proposed legislation not only infringes on the First Amendment but also marks the start of a “long process” rather than its conclusion.

The motivation behind the bill stems from longstanding concerns among U.S. lawmakers that TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, might share sensitive user data with the Chinese government, or contribute to the spread of misinformation—a claim TikTok’s CEO Shou Zi Chew has consistently denied.

In response to these concerns, the White House had previously prohibited federal employees from installing TikTok on government-issued mobile devices. Echoing these sentiments, Republican Rep. Michael McCaul highlighted the inconsistency in permitting American citizens and their children to use the app while Congress itself avoids it due to privacy concerns.

Amidst these legislative developments, TikTok has not been passive. Reports from CNBC last month indicate that the company invested around $2.1 million in television advertisements. These ads feature various users who attest to how TikTok has positively impacted their lives and subtly encourage viewers to protest against the bill’s passage.

As TikTok braces for potential legal challenges, the outcome of this confrontation could redefine digital privacy, international business relations, and free speech protections in the United States. The situation remains dynamic, with TikTok poised to defend its right to operate against a backdrop of increasing regulatory scrutiny.

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