Rand Paul among lawmakers opposing TikTok ban laws: ‘I think it’s a mistake’

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) explained his opposition to a possible nationwide TikTok ban, as many members of both parties opposed the platform, saying a ban would be a “mistake.”

Paul told Fox News in an interview Tuesday that he believes a ban would violate the First Amendment. He noted that TikTok isn’t available in China, where TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, is based.

“I think it’s a really bad idea. And people must be wondering why the Chinese government is banning TikTok and do we want to emulate the Chinese government? So I think it’s a mistake,” Paul said. “If you ban a social media platform, you know, I don’t know if you get any clearer that that violates the First Amendment.”

Paul’s opposition comes as bills have been introduced in Congress in recent months that would outright ban downloads and use of the app and give the Department of Commerce powers to review and potentially ban technology associated with foreign opposing governments.

Punchbowl News reported that Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who introduced the federal TikTok ban, said he would seek unanimous approval for his legislation in the Senate on Wednesday. He told the outlet Tuesday that no one has yet objected to the bill.

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee last week as lawmakers questioned security procedures protecting US users’ data on the app.

Congressmen on both sides of the political aisle have raised concerns that the Chinese government has access to the data since TikTok is owned by a Chinese company. Chew paused at the hearing, and TikTok has stressed over the months that it is not subject to the actions of the Chinese Communist Party and has policies in place to protect users’ personal information.

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Several House Democrats have declared their opposition to a possible TikTok ban, including Rep. Ilhan Omar (Minnesota), Jamaal Bowman (NY) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY), but Paul makes at least one Republican opposing the effort.

Paul mentioned that the court system blocked an attempted ban by the Trump administration back in 2020, and the courts could again block any potential ban.

“I support the First Amendment, which says companies doing business in the United States should not restrict their speech, or people trying to broadcast their speech on these platforms,” ​​he said.

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