First Amendment Law Firm Recruiting TikTok Creators To Challenge Possible Ban: Report

A legal firm is reportedly recruiting TikTok creators to join a lawsuit targeting the bill President Joe Biden signed into law this week, forcing the platform’s Chinese parent company to sell its stake in the app to a U.S.-based entity within a year to avoid it getting banned nationwide as court challenges over the legislation loom.

Forbes reported that First Amendment legal firm Davis Wright Tremaine has been contacting creators and small business owners with a presence on the platform about joining legal action to block the legislation.

The outlet added that it’s unclear if the company’s outreach is being made on behalf of TikTok. Davis Wright Tremaine previously represented TikTok creators and users who filed a lawsuit to block a Montana law that would ban the app statewide starting in January. The company won the court challenge, which was funded by TikTok.

Davis Wright Tremaine is not the only company reaching out to potential plaintiffs. Puneet Nanda, a small business owner with nearly 273,000 followers on the platform, told Forbes he has already been approached by lawyers from three different firms but did not name the companies as he was still considering his options.

TikTok has already announced it is planning legal action against the legislation, which was approved by both chambers of Congress as part of a wider foreign aid package to support U.S. allies abroad, including Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

“This unconstitutional law is a TikTok ban, and we will challenge it in court,” a TikTok spokesperson told HuffPost Wednesday. “We believe the facts and the law are clearly on our side, and we will ultimately prevail. The fact is, we have invested billions of dollars to keep U.S. data safe and our platform free from outside influence and manipulation. This ban would devastate 7 million businesses and silence 170 million Americans.”

Under the signed legislation, ByteDance would have up to 12 months to finalize a sale of its stake in TikTok to a U.S.-based entity.

However, it’s unclear if the company plans to comply with the directive.

ByteDance on Thursday took to one of its other social media platforms, Toutiao, to deny a report by The Information that said the Chinese tech company was exploring a sale of its stake in TikTok, notably without the algorithm that recommends videos to users, to a U.S. company outside the tech space.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported that ByteDance would rather cease TikTok’s operations in the U.S. if the upcoming legal challenge fails than go forward with a forced divestiture, citing four sources.

U.S. officials have long voiced concerns about the company’s ties to China, saying that TikTok could be forced to share its user data with the Chinese government if requested under local law.

The company has repeatedly refuted the argument, citing its investment in Project Texas, a plan to safeguard U.S. users’ data.

“Under Project Texas, all protected U.S. data will be stored exclusively in the U.S. and under the control of the U.S.-led security team,” the company writes. “This eliminates the concern that some have shared that TikTok US user data could be subject to Chinese law.”

The developments around a possible TikTok ban come as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing Friday for talks.

China has signaled it would not green-light a TikTok sale to an American company.

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