TikTok general counsel to don new role focused on fighting US sale

TikTok general counsel to don new role focused on fighting US sale

FILE PHOTO: A smartphone with a displayed TikTok logo is placed on a computer motherboard in this illustration taken February 23, 2023. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

Erich Andersen, general counsel for TikTok and Chinese parent company ByteDance, will step down from that role in June to focus on fighting efforts to force a sale of the video app in the US, the company said on Friday.

Andersen will remain at the company and become its special counsel to lead TikTok‘s effort to overturn legislation signed into law by President Joe Biden on Wednesday that gives ByteDance 270 days to divest short-video app TikTok in the United States or face a ban.

TikTok said this week it plans to file a lawsuit to challenge the legislation but has declined to say when it plans to do so.

Andersen was a key player in the company’s successful challenge in 2020 to the Trump administration’s attempt to ban TikTok and last year’s challenge that resulted in a judge blocking the state of Montana’s ban.

TikTok, which says it has not shared and would not share U.S. user data with the Chinese government, is set to challenge the bill on First Amendment grounds and TikTok users are also expected to again take legal action.

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew praised Andersen and said he was delighted Andersen “has agreed to step into the role as special counsel to focus on this very important mission facing our company.”

Chew said Wednesday the company expects to win its legal challenge to block the legislation that could ban the app used by 170 million Americans.

Biden’s signing sets a Jan. 19 deadline for a sale – one day before his term is set to expire – but he could extend the deadline by three months if he determines ByteDance is making progress.

Driven by widespread worries among U.S. lawmakers that China could access Americans’ data or surveil them with the app, the bill was overwhelmingly passed in recent days.

The four-year battle over TikTok is a significant front in a war over the internet and technology between Washington and Beijing.


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