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Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images

TikTok is suing the Trump administration over the president's executive order to ban the app unless it's sold to a U.S. company, arguing it's no security threat and that it was deprived due process.

Why it matters: There are bipartisan concerns that TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, could share U.S. user data with Beijing. TikTok has lobbied aggressively to dispel those accusations and now says the executive order is invalid because the government has failed to prove that point.

Driving the news: In a blog post Monday, TikTok says it is filing a complaint in a federal court Monday to protect its users, creators and advertisers that would be impacted by the ban.

  • "Put simply, we have a thriving community and we are grateful — and responsible — to them," the company writes. "[W]e have no choice but to take action to protect our rights, and the rights of our community and employees. "

The complaint makes several key arguments. According to TikTok...

  1. The administration ignored its efforts to prove it doesn't share U.S. user data.
  2. The order ignores due process, banning activities that don't clearly pose the sort of "unusual and extraordinary threat" the president needs to invoke the emergency powers underpinning the order.
  3. The order misapplies those powers because TikTok isn't a telecom provider. The order relies on an emergency the president declared last year aimed at keeping Chinese telecom firms like Huawei out of U.S. networks and supply chains.

Be smart: The complaint doesn't directly challenge a second executive order stemming from a Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) ruling that TikTok's parent ByteDance must divest its 2017 acquisition of Musical.ly, widely seen as the mechanism for TikTok's U.S. operations to be transferred to an American firm.

  • The complaint does, however, assert that TikTok made a year-long effort "in good faith" to provide the administration with the information requested to assess the transaction, but that it was "disregarded."
  • "CFIUS rushed out its decision within five minutes of its deadline," the complaint alleges.

Sources tell Axios that TikTok fears the order is so vaguely written that, even if TikTok were to sell to a U.S. company to avoid the ban, the administration could still try to shut down the app post-sale.

  • Nevertheless, the lawsuit isn't expected to directly impact deal talks.

Go deeper

Nov 23, 2020 - Technology

Biden's openings for tech progress

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images 

Item No. 1 on President-elect Joe Biden's day-one tech agenda, controlling the flood of misinformation online, offers no fast fixes — but other tech issues facing the new administration hold out opportunities for quick action and concrete progress.

What to watch: Closing the digital divide will be a high priority, as the pandemic has exposed how many Americans still lack reliable in-home internet connections and the devices needed to work and learn remotely.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
17 mins ago - Economy & Business

The biggest obstacle to a wealth tax

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Taxing the rich is an idea that's back. An "ultra-millionaire tax" introduced by Elizabeth Warren and other left-wing Democrats this week would raise more than $3 trillion over 10 years, they say, while making the tax system as a whole more fair.

Why it matters: New taxes would be a necessary part of any Democratic plan to redistribute wealth and reduce inequality. But President Biden has more urgent priorities — and Warren's wealth tax in particular faces constitutional obstacles that make it a hard sell.

House passes sweeping election and anti-corruption bill

Photo: Win McNamee via Getty Images

The House voted 220-210Wednesday to pass Democrats' expansive election and anti-corruption bill.

Why it matters: Expanding voting access has been a top priority for Democrats for years, but the House passage of the For the People Act (H.R. 1) comes as states across the country consider legislation to rollback voting access in the aftermath of former President Trump's loss.