• By The Financial District


Trump signed executive orders Thursday (Friday, August 7, 2020 in Manila) attempting to ban TikTok and WeChat from operating in the US, citing national security concerns, Tyler Sonnemaker and Paige Leskin wrote for Business Insider.

In the orders, the president invoked a 1977 law that gives him the authority to block foreign transactions that pose national security risks. But a legal expert told Business Insider that the orders are "likely to have First Amendment problems" because they attempt to restrict speech.

The Trump administration also faces practical and technical challenges in implementing a ban that actually keeps Americans from using the apps after TikTok was used by Trump’s detractors to deluge his campaign with 1-million requests for tickets for Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma in June. It prompted the campaign to brag about a huge turnout. Of the more than one million purported participants, only 6,200 materialized, filling up not even a third of the 19,000-seat arena.

But attempting to censor free speech is the exact reason Trump's executive orders could run into legal trouble in US courts, according to one legal expert. Kyle Langvardt, a law professor at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, told Business Insider that Trump's orders are likely to have First Amendment problems. "The reason is that they discriminate based on the identity of the speaker (Bytedance, Tencent), and also, arguably, based on the 'content' of their speech," Langvardt said. In Thursday's orders, Trump invoked his authority the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, a 1977 law that allows him to declare a national emergency, during which he has "broad authority" to regulate foreign economic transactions.