‘We aren’t going anywhere’: TikTok CEO expects to defeat US restrictions


TikTok’s chief executive said on April 24 that the company expects to win a legal challenge to block legislation signed into law by President Joe Biden that he said would ban the popular short video app used by 170 million Americans.

“Rest assured - we aren’t going anywhere,” CEO Chew Shou Zi said in a video posted moments after Mr Biden signed the bill that gives China-based ByteDance 270 days to divest TikTok’s US assets or face a ban. “The facts and the Constitution are on our side and we expect to prevail again.”

Mr. Biden’s signing sets a Jan 19 deadline for a sale - one day before his term expires - but he could extend the deadline by three months if he determines ByteDance is making progress. Mr Biden is seeking a second term against former President Donald Trump.

In 2020, Trump was blocked by the courts in his bid to ban TikTok and Chinese-owned WeChat, a unit of Tencent, in the United States.

Mr Chew added: “Make no mistake - this is a ban on TikTok.” He emphasized that TikTok would continue to operate as the company challenges the restrictions.

Driven by widespread worries among US lawmakers that China could access Americans’ data or surveil them with the app, the bill was overwhelmingly passed late on April 23 by the US Senate. The US House of Representatives approved it on April 20.

@pmwnews #TikTok #CEO #ShouChew responds to the bill that could ban the app: “Make no mistake, this is a ban, a ban of TikTok and a ban on you and your voice.” “Rest assured, we aren’t going anywhere.” #tiktokban ♬ original sound - PMW TV

The four-year battle over TikTok is a significant front in a war over the internet and technology between Washington and Beijing. Last week, Apple said China had ordered it to remove Meta Platforms' WhatsApp and Threads from its App Store in China over Chinese national security concerns.

TikTok is set to challenge the bill on First Amendment grounds and TikTok users are also expected to again take legal action. In November, a US judge in Montana blocked a state ban on TikTok, citing free-speech grounds.

The American Civil Liberties Union said banning or requiring divestiture of TikTok would “set an alarming global precedent for excessive government control over social media platforms”.

However, the new legislation is likely to give the Biden administration a stronger legal footing to ban TikTok if ByteDance fails to divest the app, experts say.

If ByteDance failed to divest TikTok, app stores operated by Apple, Alphabet’s Google, and others could not legally offer TikTok or provide Web-hosting services to ByteDance-controlled applications or TikTok’s website.

The bill would also give the White House new tools to ban or force the sale of other foreign-owned apps it deems to be security threats.

Democratic Senator Ron Wyden said he was concerned the bill “provides broad authority that could be abused by a future administration to violate Americans’ First Amendment rights”.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said on April 22 that President Biden was “pushing” for a ban on TikTok and would be the one responsible if a ban were imposed, urging voters to take notice.

Mr Biden’s re-election campaign plans to continue using TikTok, a campaign official said on Wednesday. Trump’s campaign has not joined TikTok.

Mr Biden signed legislation in late 2022 that barred US government employees from using TikTok on government phones. 


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