As many members of both parties seem to be in favor of a potential ban on the Chinese-owned social media app TikTok in the United States, one prominent Republican senator is voicing his dissent.
In an op-ed on Wednesday, Rand Paul said such a ban would not only be unconstitutional, but un-American and unpopular.
Paul said too many in the GOP are too eager to “Ban a social media app called TikTok that 94 million, primarily young Americans, use.”
The Republican senator noted the hypocrisy on the part of conservatives.
“The banning TikTok strategy also comes while the GOP simultaneously complains of liberal U.S. social media companies canceling and censoring conservatives,” Paul wrote in Louisville, Kentucky’s Courier-Journal. “So, without a hint of irony, many of these same ‘conservatives’ now agitate to ban a platform owned by an international group that includes several American investors.”
He added, “So, on the one hand, Republicans complain about censorship, while with the other hand, these same Republicans advocate to censor social media apps that they worry are influenced by the Chinese.”
Congressional members on both sides of the aisle have expressed worries about China’s government having access to U.S. data because TikTok is owned by a Chinese company.
But Paul said implementing such a ban would actually make America more like authoritarian China.
“Before banning TikTok, these censors might want to discover that China’s government already bans TikTok. Hmmm . . . do we really want to emulate China’s speech bans?” he asked.
"I will defend the Bill of Rights against all comers, even, if need be, from members of my own party." @RandPaul gets into First Amendment implications of banning TikTok. And while you might argue it doesn't matter with national security concerns…https://t.co/0zFC3uLeae
— Shoshana Weissmann, Sloth Committee Chair 🦥 (@senatorshoshana) March 29, 2023
The libertarian-leaning senator questioned the constitutionality of such a ban.
“If you don’t like TikTok or Facebook or YouTube, don’t use them,” he wrote. “But don’t think any interpretation of the Constitution gives you the right to ban them. The First Amendment isn’t really necessary to protect speech that everybody accepts. The First Amendment is precisely there to protect speech that might be unpopular or might be controversial. U.S. courts struck down the Trump Administration’s ban and, I believe, will strike down any Congressional ban.”
“I will defend the Bill of Rights against all comers, even, if need be, from members of my own party,” Paul proclaimed.
Opposition to the TikTok ban has brought together staunch Right and Left who fear such legislation is merely a recipe for more government control on speech.
Far-left ‘Squad’ members like Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Jamaal Bowman have expressed their opposition as well.
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) March 28, 2023
Rep @AOC posts her first TikTok and it’s about the possible TikTok ban.
1. She says Congress needs a classified briefing on the national security risks.
2. US needs strict data privacy laws like Europe.
3. Shouldn’t ban an app 150 million Americans use w/o making case to them. pic.twitter.com/lXesA4S5GC
— Yashar Ali 🐘 یاشار (@yashar) March 25, 2023
Fox News’ Tucker Carlson shared the AOC video featured above on his popular primetime program Monday night and actually agreed with the Democrat.
Carlson also expressed privacy concerns and called the proposed ban “terrifying.”
“This bill would give enormous and terrifying new powers to the federal government to punish American citizens and regulate how they communicate with one another,” Carlson said.
“For example, the bill would regulate ‘certain transactions between persons in the United States and foreign adversaries.’ Now, what’s a foreign adversary and who gets to decide? The secretary of commerce and the department and the DNI, not the Congress, get to decide what foreign adversaries are. Well, that ought to trip a switch in your brain and then the transactions with foreign adversaries would include ‘any acquisition, importation, transfer, installation, dealing in or use of any information and communications technology, product or service, including ongoing activities such as mandated services, data transmission, software updates, repairs, or the provision of data hosting services.”
“Well, that’s pretty broad,” Carlson worried.
🚨Government Power Grab Disguised as a Bill to Ban TikTok.
This is Democracy VS the National Security State.
It’s “introducing flat-out Totalitarianism into our system.”
TUCKER: “This isn’t really about banning TikTok. The Bill gives enormous and terrifying new powers to the… pic.twitter.com/Wqxc9PeaoC
— LionHearted (@LionHearted76) March 28, 2023
“Think about that for a minute,” he continued. “So, you would be allowing the executive branch, the Biden administration, to regulate speech on the Internet and if you are somehow involved with a ‘foreign adversary’ or let’s say you oppose the war against Russia, you’re going to prison for 20 years.”
“So, this isn’t about banning TikTok,” Carlson finished. “This is about introducing flat out totalitarianism into our system.”