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  • Marijan Hassan - Tech Journalist

TikTok vs US Government: What’s new?

The fight for the future of TikTok in the US continues to escalate, with both sides sharpening their legal arguments. Here's a breakdown of the latest developments:

TikTok Doubles Down on First Amendment Rights

Following the lawsuit challenging the potential ban, TikTok has further solidified its case focusing on the First Amendment. The company argues that the proposed law, the "Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act," effectively silences millions of American users.

In a recent filing, TikTok emphasizes the platform's role as a forum for creative expression, political discourse, and news dissemination. They claim shutting down TikTok would be akin to shutting down a public square, a clear violation of the First Amendment's protection of free speech. Additionally, eight prominent TikTok users have joined the lawsuit, adding their voices to the argument that the ban would restrict their ability to reach their audience.

US Government Shifts Focus to Children's Privacy

Meanwhile, the US government has subtly shifted its legal focus. While national security concerns remain, the Department of Justice is now placing greater emphasis on potential violations of children's privacy. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission investigated the potential violations by TikTok and its parent company ByteDance and referred the case to the Justice Department on Tuesday, last week.

This new angle capitalizes on public anxiety regarding data collection practices, particularly when it comes to minors.

The government argues that TikTok, with its vast collection of user data, including that of children, poses a significant risk. They claim the app's data practices are insufficiently transparent and leave children vulnerable to exploitation. This shift underscores the government's attempt to broaden its argument beyond national security, potentially appealing to a wider audience concerned about child safety online.

On its part, TikTok has said it strongly disagrees with the FTC's allegations and is disappointed the agency decided to pursue a lawsuit.

Uncertain Future Awaits Millions of Users

With the legal battle intensifying, millions of American TikTok users remain in limbo. While a court date is yet to be set, the current deadline for TikTok's potential divestment or shutdown remains January 2025. This time frame adds immense pressure to both sides, with users caught in the crossfire.

Possible Outcomes and Broader Implications

The ultimate outcome of this showdown remains unclear. A full ban on TikTok seems less likely with the government's shift in focus. However, a potential compromise involving stricter data regulations for minors or a requirement for US data storage could emerge.


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