SAN FRANCISCO | Donald Trump’s decisions against TikTok are motivated by political and financial considerations, and not by concerns for national security, argues the social network in a complaint it filed Monday against the US government.
The President of the United States has made increasingly radical threats over the past month against the very popular video-sharing application, which belongs to the Chinese group ByteDance, and which he accuses, without proof, of siphoning user data Americans for the benefit of Beijing.
“We totally disagree with the administration’s position that TikTok is a threat to national security,” the company justifies in a blog post by ensuring that it does not initiate these proceedings “lightly”.
On August 6, Donald Trump banned the application from any transaction with American partners beyond 45 days.
The decree does not specify the practical consequences, but the ban could force Google and Apple to remove TikTok from their app stores, effectively preventing it from being used in the United States.
“With this executive order threatening to ban our US operations – in the process wiping out the creation of 10,000 jobs in the United States and irreparably harming the millions of Americans who turn to this app for entertainment and a particularly vital livelihood during the pandemic – we just don’t have a choice, ”the company adds.
“Politicized” maneuvers …
The app has been downloaded 175 million times in the United States and over a billion times worldwide. Network data is stored on servers in the United States and Singapore. In China, ByteDance operates a platform on the same principle, but totally separate.
TikTok argues in its complaint that it did not have the benefit of a “fair process”, as guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution, since the company did not have the opportunity to present its arguments before the signing of the decree.
The social network lists its many efforts in terms of transparency and communication to provide the information requested and prove to the competent authorities that it does not represent “an unusual and extraordinary threat”, according to the wording of the law invoked by Donald Trump.
Efforts that have been totally “ignored” by the government, according to TikTok, for whom the decisions of the US administration are “highly politicized”.
They intervene in fact against the backdrop of growing diplomatic and trade tensions between Washington and Beijing.
Just over two months before the US presidential election, Donald Trump, struggling in the polls against Joe Biden, is campaigning on an anti-China message, references to the “Chinese virus” to sanctions against Hong Kong after the crackdown of pro-democracy demonstrations.
… and interested
Still arguing threats to national security, the tenant of the White House also gave ByteDance until around mid-November to sell the American operations of the network, on pain of blocking it in the United States.
In his complaint, TikTok returns to a demand from Donald Trump that has stunned many experts and caused some embarrassment even among his advisers: the president has repeatedly asked that a substantial proportion of the price of the possible sale of TikTok by ByteDance to an American company goes to the state coffers.
The Republican billionaire argues that his intervention “makes possible” such a transaction, while his decisions actually make it mandatory for the survival of the platform.
“The president’s demands for payments have nothing to do with so-called national security concerns,” TikTok asserts. “National security and data security experts criticized the political nature of this decree and questioned the sincerity [du motif]”.
Several potential buyers are in the running, including IT groups Microsoft and Oracle.
Donald Trump recently expressed support for a possible takeover bid by Oracle, a company co-founded by Larry Ellison, which has raised millions of dollars in campaign funds for the Republican candidate.
TikTok for its part recently stepped up a communications campaign in the United States with a website designed to “set the record straight”.