A group of TikTok content creators have gone to court to try and block the recently introduced divest or ban law, otherwise known as the ‘Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act.’

Reuters reported that on Tuesday the group of content creators filed a lawsuit in a US federal court to block the law, which gives TikTok and its Chinese parent ByteDance up to a year to divest the app or face a ban in the United States.

It comes after TikTok and ByteDance had last week filed a lawsuit in the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to block the law. That lawsuit argued that the law was unconstitutional” and also alleged the US legislation violated free speech.

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Creator lawsuit

The law is certain creating waves in America. TikTok is used by 170 million users in the United States and has thousands of content creators in that country.

Reuters reported that the content creators suing includes a US Marine veteran who sells ranch products, a woman who sells cookies and discusses parenting, a North Dakota college coach, a hip hop artist, and a recent college graduate.

“Although they come from different places, professions, walks of life, and political persuasions, they are united in their view that TikTok provides them a unique and irreplaceable means to express themselves and form community,” the lawsuit reportedly states.

Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, a law firm representing the creators, provided a copy of the lawsuit to Reuters.

The lawsuit has been filed in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit – the same court that TikTok has also filed its own lawsuit last week.

A Justice Department spokesperson told Reuters the TikTok law “addresses critical national security concerns in a manner that is consistent with the First Amendment and other constitutional limitations. We look forward to defending the legislation in court.”

The suit, which seeks injunctive relief, alleges the law threatens free speech and “promises to shutter a discrete medium of communication that has become part of American life.”

Divest or ban

The US Senate had last month passed the legislation that gives ByteDance up to a year to divest TikTok, or face a nationwide ban across the United States.

Also immediately US President Joe Biden followed through on his previous commitment to back the bill, and signed the bill into law.

It has been reported that ByteDance would prefer to shut down its loss-making app rather than sell it, if all legal options are exhausted. ByteDance denied it would sell TikTok without the powerful recommendation algorithm that has driven the platform’s success.

Thousands of users had inundated US lawmakers with telephone calls as the ban or divest bill went through the House and Senate.

However a recent poll by Reuters/Ipsos found that most people (58 percent) in the United States accept TikTok is a Chinese influence tool.

Yet 13 percent of respondents disagreed, and the rest were unsure or didn’t answer the question.

The ban or divest law gives Beijing-based ByteDance 270 days (or roughly nine months) to sell TikTok to a US-based company, or the app will face a total ban from American app stores, as well as being prohibited from “internet hosting services” that support the app.

President Biden could extend the deadline another 90 days if he determines ByteDance has made progress toward a sale.

That would give TikTok potentially up to a year before facing a ban.

But ByteDance is subject to Chinese law, and the Chinese government has previously stated it will oppose a sale.

Former US president Donald Trump in 2020 had tried to ban TikTok or to force its sale to a US entity, but the efforts were blocked by the courts.

More recently, Trump seems to have changed his mind and has railed against the possibility of a ban, reportedly saying Biden would be “responsible” for such a measure.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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