‘We will pursue all remedies available to us’
TikTok has retaliated against President Trump’s executive order to ban all transactions with his parent company Bytedance from September 20, saying it shows “no adherence to the law”. The Chinese company says the executive order was issued “without due process” after a year in which it claims to have tried to resolve the United States government’s concerns about its application.
TikTok suggests that it intends to challenge the order in US courts. “We will seek all remedies available to us to ensure that the rule of law is not dropped and that our company and our users are treated fairly – if not by the Administration, then by the courts of the United States.” He adds that the order “risks undermining the confidence of global companies in the United States’ commitment to the rule of law”.
The answer came after Trump signed an executive order trying to address the national security concerns raised in TikTok. The order says that applications developed by China like TikTok “threaten national security, foreign policy and the economy of the United States”.
President Trump took the unusual step of citing the International Emergency Economic Powers Act alongside the National Emergencies Act as providing the authority for the order. However, sanctions against individuals and companies, such as placing them on the “entity list,” usually come from the Department of Commerce, not the White House, or through the Foreign Investment Council in the United States. Both processes appear not to have been used in the case of ByteDance.
TikTok says the order sets a “dangerous precedent for the concept of freedom of expression and open markets”. He adds that he tried to engage constructively with the United States government on the issues raised and offered solutions such as opening his algorithm and providing more transparency about his moderation policies. “We made it clear that TikTok never shared user data with the Chinese government, nor did it censor content at its request,” says TikTok.
“We even expressed our willingness to seek the full sale of US business to an American company,” said TikTok, referring to the news that he is in talks with Microsoft about a possible sale of the service’s operations in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. These discussions are scheduled to end on September 15, about five days before the executive order comes into force.
TikTok’s full statement is below:
TikTok is a community full of creativity and passion, a home that brings joy to families and meaningful careers to creators. And we are building this platform for the long term. TikTok will be here for many years to come.We are shocked by the recent Executive Order, which was issued without any due process. For nearly a year, we have sought to engage with the US government in good faith to provide a constructive solution to the concerns that have been expressed. What we encountered instead was that the Administration paid no attention to facts, dictated terms of an agreement without going through standard legal processes, and tried to insert itself into negotiations between private businesses.We made clear our intentions to work with the appropriate officials to devise a solution to benefit our users, creators, partners, employees, and the broader community in the United States. There has been, and continues to be, no due process or adherence to the law. The text of the decision makes it plain that there has been a reliance on unnamed “reports” with no citations, fears that the app “may be” used for misinformation campaigns with no substantiation of such fears, and concerns about the collection of data that is industry standard for thousands of mobile apps around the world. We have made clear that TikTok has never shared user data with the Chinese government, nor censored content at its request. In fact, we make our moderation guidelines and algorithm source code available in our Transparency Center, which is a level of accountability no peer company has committed to. We even expressed our willingness to pursue a full sale of the US business to an American company.This Executive Order risks undermining global businesses’ trust in the United States’ commitment to the rule of law, which has served as a magnet for investment and spurred decades of American economic growth. And it sets a dangerous precedent for the concept of free expression and open markets. We will pursue all remedies available to us in order to ensure that the rule of law is not discarded and that our company and our users are treated fairly – if not by the Administration, then by the US courts.We want the 100 million Americans who love our platform because it is your home for expression, entertainment, and connection to know: TikTok has never, and will never, waver in our commitment to you. We prioritize your safety, security, and the trust of our community – always. As TikTok users, creators, partners, and family, you have the right to express your opinions to your elected representatives, including the White House. You have the right to be heard.