The popular China-based video-sharing app TikTok said Monday it has sued the administration of President Donald Trump for banning its service in the United States.
The lawsuit, filed with the federal district court in California, demands the annulment of the president's executive orders. It comes as Trump has stepped up pressure on TikTok amid concern that the platform is both a privacy risk and susceptible to Beijing's censorship activities.
"Now is the time for us to act...We feel we have no choice but to take action to protect our rights, and the rights of our community and employees," TikTok, which is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance Ltd., said in a press release.
"Today, 100 million Americans turn to TikTok for entertainment, inspiration, and connection; countless creators rely on our platform to express their creativity, reach broad audiences, and generate income," TikTok said, adding that it has created U.S.-based jobs and planned to expand hiring in the country.
On Aug. 6, Trump issued orders prohibiting any transactions in the United States with TikTok and popular Chinese messaging app WeChat, owned by Chinese IT giant Tencent Holdings Ltd., with the measures set to take effect in 45 days.
On Aug. 14, Trump ordered ByteDance to divest its interest in the U.S. operations of TikTok within 90 days.
Criticizing the Trump administration's move, TikTok said in the release that such actions will "strip the rights" of users "without any evidence to justify such an extreme action and without any due process."
"We strongly disagree with the administration's position that TikTok is a national security threat and we have articulated these objections previously," it added.
On the prospect of a lawsuit against the U.S. government by a ByteDance entity, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijia told a press conference on Monday that the Chinese government will support the move, saying Washington is trying to drive Chinese firms out of business.
The Trump administration is ratcheting up pressure on Chinese companies such as telecom giant Huawei Technologies Co. by restricting their business operations, citing potential threats to U.S. national security.
Zhao said a group of U.S. politicians, motivated by fear that foreign companies will grow stronger, is attacking Chinese firms through the exercise of state power.
TikTok, which lets users upload short videos set to music, is a hit among young people and has grown popular as a way to pass the time amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. The Chinese app is believed to have surpassed 2 billion downloads earlier this year.
TikTok reportedly censors content on topics the Chinese Communist Party deems politically sensitive, such as protests in Hong Kong and China's treatment of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities.
The social platform has faced tougher scrutiny in the United States and elsewhere, with India banning TikTok and a group of Japanese ruling party lawmakers calling for limiting the use of such Chinese apps.
Software giant Microsoft Corp. has been in talks to buy the U.S. operations of TikTok, and recent executive orders by Trump may further pressure its parent company ByteDance to sell.