A TikTok US employee last week filed an injunction motion to stop the Department of Commerce from implementing President Donald Trump’s August 6 executive order that bans American companies from transacting with Bytedance.
The case was filed at the Northern District of California’s district court by Patrick Ryan, a technical program manager at TikTok US. Stating that the “TikTok is neither owned, operated, nor controlled by China or the Chinese government” and “does not even operate in China”, Ryan argued that the order’s language may prevent Bytedance from paying wages or salaries to its American employees.
The motion points out that Trump’s executive order directs the Department of Commerce to “identify transactions” that are to be prohibited, without delineating their contours. It further allows the government to keep everyone in the dark about what specific transactions will be banned until the order comes into effect on September 21. The order’s broad language “will create a chilling effect” on anybody who has done business with TikTok. Ryan declared that the order is “unlawful and unconstitutional”.
TikTok’s 1,500 American employees need to know whether they will be paid next month, Ryan argued, especially given that many of them are on visas that are sponsored by their employers. “The U.S. employees of TikTok are pawns in a political spitting match between China and President Trump, who has decided to make “Tough on China”a central theme of his embattled re-election campaign,” the motion says.
Late last month, TikTok sued the Trump administration, stating its August 6 order unconstitutional, and that it was issue for political reasons and does not follow due legal process. Multiple American companies are racing to acquire TikTok US, with Oracle fighting a joint bid by Microsoft and Walmart. Meanwhile, the Chinese government has inserted itself into the decision, by requiring any export of artificial intelligence to first get its approval.