The short-form video app company, currently owned by Chinese internet giant ByteDance, confirmed that it plans to file a lawsuit challenging U.S. President Trump’s Aug. 6 executive order that would effectively ban TikTok unless it is sold to an American buyer. TikTok expects to sue the administration this coming week.
Trump’s actions against TikTok have come amid the U.S. government’s escalating trade tensions with China. In the order earlier this month, the president alleged that TikTok “continues to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States” based on the possibility that Chinese authorities could force TikTok to divulge user data.
In a statement released Saturday, TikTok said, “Even though we strongly disagree with the [Trump] administration’s concerns, for nearly a year we have sought to engage in good faith to provide a constructive solution. What we encountered instead was a lack of due process as the administration paid no attention to facts and tried to insert itself into negotiations between private businesses.”
TikTok added, “To ensure that the rule of law prevails and that our company and users are treated fairly, we have no choice but to challenge the Executive Order through the judicial system.” TikTok has said it has never provided data on U.S. users to China’s government and would refuse to if asked.
Trump’s order prohibits any business dealing with TikTok by any entity (or involving any property) subject to U.S. jurisdiction by Sept. 20. The president issued a similar order targeted at Tencent’s WeChat.
In a separate executive order issued Aug. 14, Trump set a 90-day deadline for Beijing-based ByteDance to divest TikTok’s U.S. assets. That order, also rooted in claims of protecting U.S. national security interests, officially forces the unwinding of ByteDance’s 2017 acquisition of Muiscal.ly, which ByteDance migrated to TikTok the following year.
TikTok’s plans to mount a legal challenge to the Trump ban were first reported by Reuters.
It’s not clear how the legal fight with Trump might affect TikTok’s M&A talks. Earlier this month Microsoft confirmed it was in talks to buy TikTok. Other American buyers reportedly circling TikTok include Twitter and software giant Oracle, led by chairman Larry Ellison, who in the past has expressed his personal support of Trump.
In recent comments, Trump has repeatedly insisted that the U.S. government deserves a cut of the proceeds of any sale of TikTok. However, experts say there’s no legal precedent for that. TikTok has been valued at about $50 billion by a group of U.S.-based ByteDance investors, Reuters reported.
TikTok, which claims it has more than 100 million U.S. users, is headed by CEO Kevin Mayer, a former Disney exec.