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US Appeals Court Fast-Tracks Hearing Over TikTok Sell-Off

Another element of TikTok’s pushback against the U.S. sell off push is set to be fast-tracked by the Court of Appeals, with a suit initiated by a group of TikTok creators against the bill to be heard in September, a month ahead of time.

That could help TikTok win a critical legal case against what it sees as an effective ban of the app, which may strengthen its broader challenge of the bill.

As reported by Reuters:

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ordered the case set for oral arguments in September after TikTok, ByteDance and a group of TikTok content creators joined with the Justice Department earlier this month in asking the court for a quick schedule. On May 14th, a group of TikTok creators filed suit to block the law that could ban the app used by 170 million Americans, saying it has had a profound effect on American life.”

Which seems like a stretch, but this is the angle that TikTok’s determined to take, that the sell-off push will violate the first amendment rights of American users, thus making it an unconstitutional action.

Though legal experts are split on whether this approach will be effective.

The key point of note is that the case against TikTok is grounded in national security, and such concerns tend to outweigh constitutional arguments. If TikTok is proven to pose a credible threat to U.S. citizens, through the gathering of user data or the proliferation of C.C.P. propaganda, then it’s hard to see TikTok being able to counter this with legal technicalities, though TikTok maintains that it doesn’t share data with the Chinese Government, and that it poses no threat, as implied.

The case then will likely come down to testimony from cybersecurity experts, including insight from the FBI, FCC, and others. All of which have already sounded the alarm on TikTok, so it does seem like TikTok will be forced into a sell-off, or a removal from the U.S. market as a result, even if it does win this lesser case.

The app’s ultimate fate will then come down to whether the Chinese Government allows owner ByteDance to sell TikTok into U.S. ownership, or it opposes the sale outright. And right now at least, it does seem that Chinese officials are determined to take a stand, which means that TikTok is increasingly likely to removed from the U.S. early next year.

Which isn’t a death knell for the app. A ban in the U.S. would still mean that TikTok remains available in other regions, though a concern is that if TikTok is banned in America, other regions will also take a closer look.

It’ll also reduce the amount of content being posted to the app, from a range of influential creators, which could poser a longer term threat.

There’s still some way to go, and various legal challenges to be filed, but I would say that I’m less optimistic of TikTok remaining available in the U.S. than I had been when the initial bill was passed.

But we’ll have to wait and see what comes next.

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