Newsline

Newsline , Society

Why AOC and Rand Paul Both Oppose a Bill to Ban TikTok

Posted on Thursday, April 6, 2023
|
by Shane Harris
|
41 Comments
|
Print

AMAC Exclusive – By Shane Harris

As pressure mounts on Congress to address concerns over TikTok, one proposed bill to ban the popular social media app completely has done the seemingly impossible – create bipartisan coalitions supporting and opposing the legislation.

Debate over TikTok reached new heights following CEO Shou Zi Chew’s testimony before Congress late last month, where several lawmakers hammered Chew over concerns that the company could be funneling sensitive information about American users to the Chinese Communist Party.

Although several bills banning TikTok have been introduced, the legislation that appears to have the most momentum – and is driving the most controversy – is the “Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology Act” or the “RESTRICT Act.”

The bill was introduced in early March by Democrat Senator Mark Warner of Virginia in conjunction with Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota. It currently has 13 Republican cosponsors and 12 Democrat cosponsors, as well as the support of the White House. But detractors – ranging from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the “Squad” on the left to staunch conservatives like Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and members of the House Freedom Caucus on the right – say it goes far beyond the scope of simply banning one website and allocates too much power to the government.

Although the RESTRICT Act doesn’t name TikTok specifically, it outlines a new process whereby the federal government can restrict tech products that “threaten national security,” specifically naming China Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela as “adversary nations.” Warner and other supporters have indicated that TikTok would be the first target if the bill were passed into law.

In a joint press release, Warner and Thune described the RESTRICT Act as “establish[ing] a risk-based process, tailored to the rapidly changing technology and threat environment, by directing the Department of Commerce to identify and mitigate foreign threats to information and communications technology products and services.”

But despite initial bipartisan support, the bill has also drawn intense scrutiny from Republicans and Democrats.

Democrats for their part have offered a more full-throated defense of TikTok generally. Soon after the RESTRICT Act was introduced, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez posted a video (on TikTok, no less) minimizing privacy concerns.

“Do I believe TikTok should be banned? No,” the New York lawmaker said. “It just doesn’t feel right to me.”

Fellow “Squad” member Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) joined Ocasio-Cortez in defending the Chinese app, saying that “TikTok as a platform has created a community and a space for free speech for 150 million Americans and counting.”

This position has been blasted by conservatives as willfully obtuse to the threat posed by TikTok. Although Ocasio-Cortez and Bowman raised the valid point that TikTok is just one of many social media apps that collects data on users without their knowledge, they failed to mention that TikTok is the only major platform owned by a foreign company – Bytedance – which is required to report any and all data it collects to the Chinese Communist Party under the provisions of a 2017 Chinese law.

It is worth noting that TikTok has become a primary platform for the left to reach young people, a fact that likely factors into Democrats’ hesitancy to ban it. The app is rife with adults spreading left-wing concepts like radical gender theory and poisoning kids against conservatives by disseminating false or misleading information.

A report from the Daily Wire has also revealed that Ocasio-Cortez and other Democrats who have defended TikTok have ties to organizations that have received funding from Bytedance or have themselves accepted money from TikTok’s parent company.

Republicans’ concerns have been more diverse and nuanced. Although GOP lawmakers are united in believing action is needed to stop TikTok’s access to Americans’ personal data, as well as to address the damaging and often dangerous information the app hammers into the minds of children, they’re not all in agreement on whether or not a blanket ban is the best path forward.

Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, who has long garnered a reputation as the most libertarian-minded member of the upper chamber, opposes any ban on free speech grounds. In an op-ed for USA Today last week, Paul worried that banning TikTok would amount to “censorship,” going on to say, “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.”

Other Republicans have expressed support for banning TikTok in general but opposition to the RESTRICT Act specifically. Many have compared the bill to a “digital PATRIOT Act,” arguing that it provides far too much power to the government to monitor and potentially proscribe individuals’ online activity.

Rep. Warren David (R-OH), a Freedom Caucus member, shared a Twitter thread earlier this week outlining some of these concerns, commenting that the RESTRICT Act “build[s] onto a domestic police state” and “is a domestic threat to our Constitution and our way of life.” Freshman Senator JD Vance, another Ohio Republican, has also voiced hesitation, saying, “I think we should ban TikTok. I’m a little bit more concerned with the RESTRICT Act.”

Critics of the RESTRICT Act have pointed specifically to provisions of the bill that empower the Department of Commerce to ban not just TikTok but any internet platform and even access the personal data of any individual deemed a “national security risk.” The scope of this government surveillance power is virtually unlimited, applying to “desktop applications, mobile applications, gaming applications, web-based applications, software, hardware, wireless local area networks, mobile networks, satellite payments,” and more than a dozen other areas where Americans might store online data.

In practice, this means that government bureaucrats would have broad authority to restrict access to any platform they want (including payment processors for cryptocurrency and Bitcoin) and collect information on any American. Furthermore, all of this activity is exempt from Freedom of Information Act requests thanks to a short clause tucked away in the back of the bill.

Supporters of the RESTRICT Act have sold it as a ban on TikTok that only applies to foreign adversaries. But as the language of the bill makes clear, much like the PATRIOT Act, the RESTRICT Act can easily be turned inward to target American citizens.

Thus far, the senators pushing the bill have offered little to assuage these fears. But unless they do so soon, the bipartisan coalition backing the legislation might find themselves thwarted by another bipartisan group of lawmakers opposing it.

Shane Harris is a writer and political consultant from Southwest Ohio. You can follow him on Twitter @Shane_Harris_.

We hope you've enjoyed this article. While you're here, we have a small favor to ask...

The AMAC Action Logo

Support AMAC Action. Our 501 (C)(4) advances initiatives on Capitol Hill, in the state legislatures, and at the local level to protect American values, free speech, the exercise of religion, equality of opportunity, sanctity of life, and the rule of law.

Donate Now
Share this article:
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
41 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Mike
Mike
1 year ago

Nice article!

Philip Hammersley
Philip Hammersley
1 year ago

As I understand it, THIS particular bill could allow unintended consequences and be used against domestic sites. We got bamboozled once with the Patriot Act which is now being used by the Deep State to spy on normal people. Any bill that is passed should be limited in scope with NO loopholes to allow domestic spying!

Rob citizenship
Rob citizenship
1 year ago

Very important article Shane , Well Done ! What you mentioned in the next to last paragraph determines the importance of the issue, that is , how the door to censorship could be opened with this bill. So, I reckon it needs a bit more fine tuning before it should be considered to be acceptable legislation . The details involved, that you presented very well, are appreciated.

Melinda
Melinda
1 year ago

While I agree with certain points on both sides (the bill would restrict free speech, but also guard against foreign influence), I tend to be against legislation. It always has unintended consequences, much like the Patriot Act.

Bob L.
Bob L.
1 year ago

I have come to be concerned as much about the electronic “cloud” we are submerged in that enables all of the programs and apps to operate, not to mention cell phones. Decades ago, there was a concern about living too close to high voltage electrical transmission lines and health issues as a result. Today we live in a massive cloud of electronic energy of numerous frequencies and no thought is being given to how that affects people’s mental state as well as physical health. Mental illness is a big issue now and could possibly be linked to what our brains are receiving and digesting right out of the air surrounding us.

Chris
Chris
1 year ago

The RESTRICT Act is bad law and deserves to be opposed, the powers it grants are far too broad and far too easily abused. The text in question:

US gov’t “…is authorized to and shall take action to identify, deter, disrupt, prevent, prohibit, investigate, or otherwise mitigate, including by negotiating, entering into, or imposing, and enforcing any mitigation measure to address any risk arising from any covered transaction by any person.”

Read investigate as spy on and take note of “any risk” from “any person”.

Covered transaction is any current, past or *possible* future transaction! They can spy on your every internet-connected action/device (including car) if they think you *might* do something?!?!?!

Transaction is also very broad including “acquisition of information”, i.e. any web page, video, post, text, etc. Watch/read something they don’t like and you’ll be classified as a person who might get involved in a “transaction” they deem risky and you are fair game.

Very bad law and AMAC should do what it can to stop it.

packman
packman
1 year ago

Henry Hyde opposed the first amendment by railroading the Clinton impeaching through the house while restricting the speech of the opposition. Henry Hyde was also wrong to try to restrict partial birth abortions.

Ann S
Ann S
1 year ago

The restrict act is just a way for the dems to curtail free speech.
It has nothing to do with tik tok.
Please all politicians read the bill before you pass it. This is the most restrictive bill ever proposed in the land of the Free and home of the Brave.

Joe L
Joe L
1 year ago

I have said form the beginning, that social media in the form of ONLINE or INTERNET COMMINICATION is the most dangerous threat to our country. The ‘tool’ is being used for decades now to undermine and present destructive ideas, fabricated theories and thought altering presentations and ads targeting the minds of citizens to alter their perception of the fundamental values we base our society on. TikTok is such a platform, especially used by a foreign enemy’s gov’t. to persuade and entertain the user while indoctrinating them to an alternative opinion and belief. It needs to go, and the other platforms regulated to control subversive use to censor comments and illegally denying ones right to voice free speech.

Carol
Carol
1 year ago

I don’t want a bill that gives government any more power. We need to rein in the power of government, not expand it. As for TikTok, let the people know its could be collecting data for the CCP and then let the citizens make up their own mind. There are lots of ways to get folks info these days and not all of those apps collecting data reside in foreign countries but I’ll bet for the right price, its being sold already to nefarious groups!

packman
packman
1 year ago

Henry Hyde was a complete and total failure. Henry Hyde was wrong for trying to ban partial birth abortions.

jjay
jjay
1 year ago

Well written and concise, backing with resources, concerns, and add’l facts. Thank you, Mr. Shane Harris — and AMAC.

Rob citizenship
Rob citizenship
1 year ago

At this point it looks like the concerns of Rand Paul are valid and this bill is too much of a potential threat to freedom. It appears to have as many twists and turns as a corkscrew and very important details are not being emphasized that could lead to it being something with negative consequences . So, another approach is needed to deal with the intelligence gathering by the communists. This ,of course, is a complex matter, and makes it clear why the word science in political science is appropriate . The United States of America has dealt with other complex issues since the 1700’s , this situation should be handled appropriately as long as respect for truth and liberty are part of the picture. With knowledge from history and guidance from God this issue should be resolved in a way that is in keeping with having courage to defend all that is right . In the spirit of the defense of the idea of Faith, Family and Freedom.

h.L.Howell
h.L.Howell
1 year ago

First steps first. Develop a plan so every conservative can work on the PLAN. Get rid of the patriot act, the need for it has passed. Next get rid of the chinese police stations in America. You get the picture. Get SOMETHING done.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase
1 year ago

AOC has interesting legislator tools; “it doesn’t feel right to me”. Sure earns her seat, eh?

PIDL
PIDL
1 year ago

The CIA and NSA and other 3 letter bureaucracies are the ones who are behind this! They already spy on us! This was made possible by the patriot act. Maybe someone in the government should have listened to Snowdon. The ones that did were the ones that wanted to shut him up!

Granny
Granny
1 year ago

I don’t think TikTok should be available to children. Adults make their own decisions based on their ethics, morals, conscience, etc., but the indoctrination of children continues to be alarming. It’s bad enough when that indoctrination comes from the U.S., but when a foreign country is involved…it’s completely uncontrollable.

Ryans Dad
Ryans Dad
1 year ago

Include on the bill that any application of the law must be approved by a majority of the House, who must make an up or down simple majority vote within 7 days of submission.

T Swartz
T Swartz
1 year ago

Well all the social media platforms collect information. If they are worried appoint a group to oversee Tiktok

James H
James H
1 year ago

I don’t like TikTok. I think it’s toxic, but we cannot give the Federal Government any more power. In fact, it is time for the people to be responsible and push for very limited Government! We are seeing the weaponization of our federal justice and law enforcement because we have allowed them to have far too much influence in our businesses and lives. “Government of the people, by the people and for the people!”

Beagle Boy
Beagle Boy
1 year ago

Senator Thune, I had always thought you had represented South Dakota well in the Halls of Government. Now I see you have been sucked into the mire of “The Swamp” like many other career politicians. As I read the text of your proposal I (unfortunately) was not dismayed to find that, although there are penalties for “Foreign Entities”, there are evidently no penalties for members of our own Government that may abuse the administration of this proposal. That’s the road the “Patriot Act” went down. Our Government constantly violates our Citizens Constitutional Rights under cover of the Patriot Act. What safeguards does your proposal have in it to prevent a continuance of this same problem? Why, specifically, is there concise wording in this “Act” that forbids a citizen there 1st Amendment Right to question the Honesty, Fairness of express an Opinion on the outcome of any of our Elections?

You were elected to represent the people of South Dakota for the express purpose of working on legislation that bettered their lives and their states prosperity. This Act does neither. Reread our Constitution. It was written to protect our Citizens from the oppression of Government Overreach.

Enough!

I have always voted for you in the past, however, I shall do so no more.

I’m embarrassed for believing in you.

A Former Constituent

Mums
Mums
1 year ago

So if Facebook, twitter, were hiding certain news from the American people what makes you think China who has paid off many of people in Congress and the Senate, is not doing that now.

John Riley
John Riley
1 year ago

Just require foreign owned or controlled sites to be prominently identified and let the user decide whether or not they want to go there.

An older blonde women laughing in the kitchen with a grey haired man.
AMAC’s Medicare Advisory Service
The knowledge, guidance, and choices of coverage you’re looking for. The exceptional service you deserve.
The AMAC App on 3 different iPhone
Download the AMAC App
The AMAC App is the place to go for insightful news wherever you are and whenever you want.
American Parents Coalition logo
Flag of USA painted on an old brick wall with cracks. Rows of bricks forming the red and white stripes.
A #D map of the United States with red map pins on Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin
President Joe Biden tapes an interview with Jake Tapper of “The Lead with Jake Tapper”, Tuesday, October 11, 2022, in the Map Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

Stay informed! Subscribe to our Daily Newsletter.

"*" indicates required fields

41
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x

Subscribe to AMAC Daily News and Games