Barbara Linney: IEEPA in the spotlight as TikTok and WeChat ‘chat back’

12 January 2021

Back in August, President Donald Trump issued executive orders (‘EOs’) prohibiting ‘any transaction by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States’ with the Chinese media companies TikTok and WeChat, claiming that the companies’ presence in the US could threaten citizens’ personal information and data.

Importantly, the President exercised his authority under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (‘IEEPA).’  

But the companies hit back with suits against the President and the Commerce Department, arguing that the EOs represented an ultra vires exercise of authority.

How the court decides these suits has huge ramifications for the understanding of IEEPA and its scope, and the way in which the President and agencies intervene in the activities of foreign companies in the United States. It’s being watched closely by banks, companies and investors around the world – appropriately given the significant corporate/financial footprint of the plaintiffs and potential plaintiffs worldwide. 

In her presentation, Barbara Linney, partner at law firm BakerHostetler, outlines the issues and the potential ripples resulting from their conclusion.