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91 views • March 29, 2023

Sen. Hawley’s Efforts to Fast-Track TikTok Ban Blocked by Sen. Paul

Capitol Report
Capitol Report
Efforts from Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) to ban Chinese-owned TikTok on U.S. soil suffered a setback on March 29 when fellow Republican Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) opposed the move, arguing the ban would limit free speech. On the Senate floor, Paul objected to Hawley’s request for unanimous consent to fast-track a ban on the viral app in the United States over national security concerns, telling his fellow colleagues he sees the ban as a First Amendment issue. “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 said. While TikTok does not operate in China, Douyin, the app’s heavily-censored sister platform run by TikTok’s Chinese parent company ByteDance, is allowed to operate in the country. “Have faith that our Americans are smart enough to hear bad ideas and reject those ideas, have faith that our desire for freedom is strong enough to survive a few dance videos.” The Chinese-owned platform, used by some 150 million Americans, has drawn alarm from experts and a growing number of lawmakers over its data security practices and link to the Chinese Communist Party. Responding to Paul, Hawley said that the First Amendment doesn’t contain the “right to espionage.” “I’m astounded to learn that Americans have the right to be spied upon,” he said in a speech. “So not only does China apparently get the right to spy in the First Amendment, Americans have the inalienable right to be spied upon and have all of their data taken from them. That’s not democracy. That’s an abuse of our laws, the abuse of our economy, the abuse of our people by a foreign government for its purposes,” he said, suggesting that TikTok has been showering money to lobby politicians.
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