Last week, President Donald Trump issued an executive order banning all US transactions with ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns TikTok, and its subsidiaries. The language of the order is broad, so it is unclear whether this will prevent TikTok from paying its employees. The Trump administration has not answered questions about how the order will affect TikTok employees.
The order, which will take effect on September 20, will effectively ban the short video app from running in the United States if ByteDance does not sell TikTok. Microsoft has admitted that it is discussing a deal to buy the TikTok service in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Negotiations can be completed by September 15, before the deadline.
Mike Godwin, a prominent Internet rights lawyer, said on Twitter Thursday that he was one of the lawyers working on the case against the Trump administration.
“I believe that the US government, with its out-of-warranty enforcement order, has jeopardized the constitutional rights of employees, including the right to be paid,” he tweeted.
In an interview, Godwin said the executive order violated the Fifth and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, which states that no one can be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. The case could be filed by the end of next week.
“It’s essentially a due process lawsuit, but there are some claims in labor law that may also be relevant,” said Godwin, who works with the Blackstone Law Group in New York. “We just want to make sure we check all the boxes.”
Godwin was hired by Patrick Ryan, a TikTok employee, who launched a $ 30,000 GoFundMe campaign to “submit an order so the court can order the government to change the order so that TikTok can pay employees.” . On the GoFundMe page and in a TikTok video, Ryan said the order would mean 1,500 ByteDance and TikTok employees would lose their salaries on September 20. More than $ 11,200 has been raised for the campaign.
TikTok is also working on a separate case against the Trump administration, which is also expected to claim the order is unconstitutional, NPR reported. The case will be filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, according to the report.
TikTok said it had not been involved in the trial of potential employees or in the coordination of activities with the group. The company added that it respects “the rights of employees to engage in concerted action in order to seek due process of law.”
In a blog post last week, TikTok said he was “shocked” by Trump’s executive order and that the order was “issued without due process.”
The Trump administration’s executive order comes after India banned TikTok and dozens of other Chinese applications because of national security concerns. In the order, the Trump administration says the user data TikTok collects “threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and protected information – potentially allowing China to track the whereabouts of federal officials and counterparties, to build personal files. information on extortion and corporate espionage. ”
TikTok said US consumer data is not stored in China and will not pass on user data to the Chinese government, even if asked to do so.
The Trump administration has also issued a separate enforcement order that will ban the WeChat messaging app in the United States.
On Thursday, White House spokesman Kaylee McEnnany defended the executive orders during a press briefing.
“The administration is committed to protecting the American people from all kinds of cybercrime,” she said. “These applications collect significant amounts of personal data from users and this information can be accessed and used by the People’s Republic of China. Americans very seriously. “
Asked about the executive orders, Trump said the US government wanted “complete security.”
“We don’t want information to enter China,” Trump said.
CNET’s Oscar Gonzalez contributed to this report.