TikTok and its employees plan to fight Trump over app ban

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TikTok and it’s United States employees are planning to take Trump’s administration to court over his sweeping order to ban the popular video app, according to a lawyer preparing one of the lawsuits.

The employees’ legal challenge to Trump’s executive order will be separate from a pending lawsuit from the company that owns the app, though both will argue that the order is unconstitutional, said Mike Godwin, an internet policy lawyer representing the employees.

President Trump last week ordered sweeping but vague bans on dealings with the Chinese owners of TikTok and messaging app WeChat, saying they are a threat to U.S. national security, foreign policy, and the economy.

The TikTok order would take effect in September, but it remains unclear what it will mean for the app’s 100 million U.S. users, many of them teenagers or young adults who use it.

It is also unclear if it will make it illegal for TikTok to pay its roughly 1,500 workers in the U.S., which is why some of them came to Godwin for help, he said.

The order would prohibit any transaction by any person with TikTok and its Chinese parent company ByteDance.

Employees correctly recognize that their jobs are in danger and their payment is in danger right now, Godwin said.

TikTok did not return multiple requests for comment this week. It said in a statement on Friday that it was shocked by the recent Executive Order, which was issued without any due process.

The 5th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution safeguard life, liberty and property from arbitrary government action lacking due process of law.

Microsoft is in talks to buy parts of TikTok, in a potential sale that is being forced under Trump’s threat of a ban.

TikTok said it spent nearly a year trying to engage in good faith with the U.S. government to address its concerns.

Godwin said he was retained by Patrick Ryan, who joined TikTok from Google earlier this year as a technical program manager. Ryan posted a public fundraising pitch on GoFundMe this week to raise money for lawyers who can fight this unconstitutional taking.

This is unprecedented, Ryan wrote. And it’s frankly really uncool.

Unlike other Chinese tech companies targeted by Trump, such as telecom giant Huawei, TikTok’s widespread popularity among Americans adds a layer of complexity to its legal and political challenges.

The looming ban has annoyed TikTok users, some of them Trump supporters like Pam Graef of Metairie, Louisiana.

The company said last week the way it collects data is typical for thousands of mobile apps. We have made clear that TikTok has never shared user data with the Chinese government, nor censored content at its request, it said.

Godwin said the employees’ legal challenge will be focused on worker rights, not on the national security claims underlying Trump’s order.

The civil rights lawyer, known in early internet culture for coining Godwin’s law, which posits that all online debates will eventually devolve into the use of Nazi analogies, said employees cannot afford to wait.

We have to proceed very quickly, he said on Thursday. If we wait around for the order to be enforced, which it will be on September 20, then the workers will lose their chances to be paid.

SOURCE: AP NEWS AGENCY