By Katy Stech Ferek and Georgia Wells 

TikTok and its parent company filed a new lawsuit against President Trump and his administration in a last-minute legal push to stop a ban on downloading the popular video-sharing app.

The suit was filed late Friday in federal court in Washington, D.C., in response to a Trump administration announcement earlier in the day that it would ban U.S. downloads of TikTok and another Chinese-owned app, WeChat, after 11:59 p.m. on Sunday as a result of what U.S. officials say are national security concerns about the services.

The lawsuit came as TikTok and ByteDance Ltd., its Chinese parent, awaited a decision from Mr. Trump on a separate effort to preserve the app's presence in the U.S. through a deal with U.S. partners. Mr. Trump later Saturday said he had agreed in concept to that deal, which entails Oracle Corp. and Walmart Inc. taking a combined 20% in TikTok, which will be based in the U.S. Oracle also will provide cloud services and guarantee TikTok's data is secure.

The Trump administration contends that the data that TikTok and WeChat collect from U.S. users could be shared with the Chinese government. TikTok has said it would never hand over such data. WeChat, owned by China-based Tencent Holdings Ltd., also said it "incorporates the highest standards of user privacy and data security."

TikTok and ByteDance in their complaint argue that the Trump administration acted beyond its capacity and violated free-speech protections with Friday's decision to proceed with a ban. That decision would mean the apps may have to be removed from marketplaces like Apple Inc.'s App Store and Google Play.

Mr. Trump and Commerce Department officials "took this extraordinary action of prohibiting a popular communication and information-sharing platform without affording its owners...due process of law, and for political reasons rather than because of any 'unusual and extraordinary threat' to the United States," TikTok lawyers said in the lawsuit.

After Mr. Trump's announcement Saturday on TikTok's deal with Oracle and Walmart, the Commerce Department said it would delay Friday's order against TikTok by a week, until Sept. 27 at 11:59 p.m., in light of "recent positive developments."

Because of those deal talks, Commerce officials in Friday's announcement had already pushed off until Nov. 12 more severe action against TikTok that would prohibit key transactions with the company. That timetable matched the 90-day deadline that Mr. Trump set for the divestiture of TikTok's U.S. operations.

Friday's lawsuit from TikTok echoes one it filed last month in federal court in California, though Friday's challenge also raises what it says are several administrative missteps by U.S. officials, including overlooking evidence that TikTok has presented in a separate national security review process.

The California lawsuit has made little progress, and Justice Department lawyers have yet to respond to it. A spokeswoman for TikTok said it believed it was best positioned to win relief in court in Washington because that is where the government's actions occurred.

The Trump administration's action against WeChat is also being challenged in court in a suit filed by a group of WeChat users on Aug. 21 in San Francisco. U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler heard additional arguments in that case Saturday afternoon and said she planned to issue a ruling later in the day.

WeChat users behind the suit raised similar First Amendment and due process claims to those in the TikTok suit. They also voiced concerns about the potential ban's effect on the Chinese-American community and older people who rely on it. Few alternative apps exist, WeChat users said in the lawsuit.

Lawyers representing the U.S. government argued that other apps could provide users with features and services similar to WeChat.

TikTok is far more popular than WeChat in the U.S., where it has roughly 100 million monthly users, and its fate has been closely watched by its fans as well as Silicon Valley's top executives.

Adam Mosseri, chief executive of Facebook Inc.'s Instagram, tweeted on Friday that the U.S. banning TikTok "would be quite bad for Instagram, Facebook, and the internet more broadly." Instagram earlier this year launched a new service called Reels that includes many similar features to TikTok and was seen as a potential threat to the app's surge in popularity.

Vanessa Pappas, TikTok's interim chief, quickly voiced her agreement with Mr. Mosseri. "We invite Facebook and Instagram to publicly join our challenge and support our litigation. This is a moment to put aside our competition and focus on core principles like freedom of expression and due process of law," she said on Twitter.

The Journal previously reported that Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg had stoked concerns about TikTok in Washington.

Separately on Friday, three influencers on TikTok also sued the Trump administration in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, also alleging the executive order violated the First and Fifth amendments. Comedian Douglas Marland, fashion designer Cosette Rinab and musician Alec Chambers, who have a combined following of more than six million on TikTok, said in the suit that the order affects their ability to work and violates due process.

"Purportedly issued to address national security concerns, the Executive Order approaches this alleged problem with a sledgehammer, not a scalpel, as the First Amendment requires," their suit said.

Sebastian Herrera contributed to this article.

Write to Katy Stech Ferek at katherine.stech@wsj.com and Georgia Wells at Georgia.Wells@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 19, 2020 21:47 ET (01:47 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Walmart (NYSE:WMT)
Historical Stock Chart
From Sep 2020 to Oct 2020 Click Here for more Walmart Charts.
Walmart (NYSE:WMT)
Historical Stock Chart
From Oct 2019 to Oct 2020 Click Here for more Walmart Charts.