Ever since TikTok's Chinese origins became common knowledge, claims (both founded and unfounded) that the app is a vehicle for Chinese government surveillance haven't taken a rest. It gave President Trump — the man who coined the term "China flu" — an occasion to undermine China and liberal teens in one fell swoop. When the app was first banned, TikTok was given 30 days to sell to a U.S.-based company with Trump demanding that a cut of the sale go into the pockets of the U.S. government. Then, the 30-day deadline became a 45-day deadline.
In a statement published to its website, TikTok explained, "We do not take suing the government lightly, however, we feel we have no choice but to take action to protect our rights and the rights of our community and employees." TikTok claims that by banning the app with no notice, the administration is violating the Fifth Amendment, which guarantees the right to due process.
TikTok is arguing that the Administration is stripping TikTok's users of their rights with no evidence that the platform presents any real risk to national security. It also claims the administration ignored the company's exhaustive efforts to prove it poses no significant threat to national security. In other words, TikTok says it's done everything it can to work with the government to prove it's a safe platform, but the administration doesn't care. In fact, according to TikTok, some of the cited national security concerns are sourced from "outdated news articles."
TikTok didn't just roll up to the U.S. — it landed on our phones after its parent company bought Musical.ly. For a transaction of that size, a lot of paperwork had to be run through the U.S. government, including detailed descriptions of TikTok's security practices.
So, what comes next? Today, TikTok filed a complaint against the Trump administration in federal court. As many experts have said, TikTok doesn't seem to present any obviously exceptional or significant national security threat. But what does seem obvious, is how political this all is. Never has TikTok's Chinese ownership been such a big deal.