Another GOP Rep comes out SWINGING against dystopian TikTok legislation

More Republican members of Congress are breaking ranks on the “RESTRICT Act,” legislation ostensibly intended to ban TikTok in the U.S. that would actually give the federal government sweeping new powers that extend far beyond one social media app. Rep. Thomas Massie, a Kentucky Republican, just came out against the legislation, which is moving through the Senate with bipartisan support.

“I’ve communicated very politely to our leadership here that if you ever try to bring a bill like that here, we’re going to have even more problems in this chamber,” Massie told Axios. He said the RESTRICT Act is “an excuse to grow government … [to give them] the power to be judge and jury.”

I have no affinity for TikTok, I think it probably is caustic to our society,” the congressman added, but “the cure is worse than the disease, for sure.”

Massie is hardly alone in his opposition. Other Republican lawmakers who are actually committed to limiting government have similarly bashed the bill, most prominently among them, Sen. Rand Paul.

“Do we really want to emulate China’s speech bans?” Paul asked. “If you don’t like TikTok or Facebook or YouTube, don’t use them. But don’t think any interpretation of the Constitution gives you the right to ban them. I will defend the Bill of Rights against all comers, even, if need be, from members of my own party.” 

What’s so bad about this legislation? Well, as BASEDPolitics’ Hannah Cox explained:

“The bill would require the executive branch to prohibit or otherwise mitigate any transaction or activity in information and communications online by companies that are controlled by a ‘foreign adversary.’ What constitutes a foreign adversary? That’s left up to the Secretary of Commerce and the Director of National Intelligence to decide. So, umm, it could be literally anyone or anything they want it to be.

And how would the president then ‘prohibit or otherwise mitigate’ these transactions? Prepare yourself, it’s terrifying. The bill grants numerous civil and criminal enforcement options that include forced divestment of assets, seizure of assets, and subpoenas for information. So any business caught in the crosshairs communicating with an entity that could overnight be determined a foreign adversary could face financial ruin. And those that stand wrongfully accused? They get a small window to bring direct constitutional challenges in the US Court of Appeals for DC (aka, you’re screwed).

Furthermore, the bill also creates harsh penalties for individual citizens who violate this law by attempting to get around (or help others get around) the new restrictions. So for example, someone who used a VPN to circumvent the ban and get on TikTok could be literally prosecuted under this law, as could someone who tried to access information on foreign-owned tech companies like WeChat.”

The general move to ban TikTok is bad enough. But this particular legislation, the RESTRICT Act, is essentially a Patriot Act for the internet. It would give the government Orwellian levels of control over what we can see online. That’s something no American, regardless of how they feel about TikTok, ought to support.

Here’s hoping these principled Republicans can consign this bill to the trash bin where it belongs. 

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Brad Polumbo
Brad Polumbo
Brad Polumbo is a libertarian-conservative journalist and co-founder of Based Politics. His work has been cited by top lawmakers such as Senator Rand Paul, Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Pat Toomey, Congresswoman Nancy Mace, Congressman Thomas Massie, and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, as well as by prominent media personalities such as Jordan Peterson, Sean Hannity, Dave Rubin, Ben Shapiro, and Mark Levin. Brad has also testified before the US Senate, appeared on Fox News and Fox Business, and written for publications such as USA Today, National Review, Newsweek, and the Daily Beast. He hosts the Breaking Boundaries podcast and has a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.