The strange alliance forms to protect TikTok

The two parties that control Congress rarely agree on whether it’s about guns, the border, or how the federal budget is structured.

When it comes to the upcoming bill to ban the social media app TikTok, however, the fronts between Republicans and Democrats are much less clear.

For months, conservatives in the United States have been leading efforts to ban the video-based app over TikTok’s ties to Chinese company ByteDance and its likely compliance with an opaque law in the country that requires all companies within its borders to share any user data that does so could be considered relevant to national security.

State governments in mainly red states like Texas and South Carolina quickly moved to ban the app from state-owned devices – citing security concerns – while many Republican members in Congress began pushing for the app to be completely out of the country to banish.

Tucker AOC
Progressive New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (L) and far-right Fox News host Tucker Carlson (R) have emerged as two unlikely allies in their bid to thwart a law banning Chinese social media app TikTok.
Drew Angerer/Jason Koerner/Newsweek Photo Illustration/Getty Images

In December, however, media outlets including Al Jazeera reported that liberal Washington state stronghold was planning to impose its own ban on the application on state-owned devices, while later that month the Kansas governor became the first US Democrat to introduce his own ban issued its own ban.

Back in February, Democratic Senator from Colorado Michael Bennet called for a national ban, and the following month a bipartisan group in Congress introduced legislation aiming to ban the app outright. TikTok later claimed that President Joe Biden — who signed legislation banning the app from state-owned devices late last year — actively warned the company that he would support efforts to ban the app unless its parent company divested itself outright from TikTok, which was rejected by the company.

“If protecting national security is the goal, the divestment doesn’t solve the problem,” Maureen Shanahan, spokeswoman for TikTok, told CNN in a statement. “A change in ownership would not impose new restrictions on data flow or access. The best way to address national security concerns is transparent, US-based protection of US user data and systems with robust third-party monitoring and review and verification that we already implement.”

However, with Congress potentially rushing headlong into an effort to ban the app outright, a bipartisan group has emerged opposing the ban, citing concerns about restricting free speech and disliking young voters.

In a speech Wednesday night, Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky emerged as one of the first Republican opponents of the bill, claiming it would set a dangerous precedent for censorship at a time when conservatives were already over content moderation practices on social media -Companies embraced like Facebook and Twitter.

“The Republican strategy to ban TikTok comes concurrently with GOP complaints about domestic social media companies canceling and censoring conservatives,” Paul wrote in a statement following his speech. “Without a hint of irony, many of these ‘conservatives’ rail against censorship while campaigning for government censorship against social media apps they fear are being influenced by the Chinese.”

But it’s not just conservatives who support free speech who oppose the bill.

After a five-hour barbecue by TikTok CEO Shou Chew through a bipartisan cross-section of Congress in Washington, DC, progressive New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez joined the protests on Capitol Hill protesting efforts to ban the app , after posting her own TikTok — her first — highlights the unprecedented nature of such an action.

While former President Donald Trump was quick to use his executive powers to ban several Chinese-owned apps like AliPay from the US at the end of his term, Congress itself had never taken steps to ban a social media platform from operating in the US Platforms like 8Chan or even the white supremacist site The Daily Stormer came from the company’s respective hosting platforms instead.

Other platforms like Facebook faced relatively light penalties for committing similar infractions to those accused of TikTok, including collecting and selling data to private firms like Cambridge Analytica with the express intention of changing the outcome of the US election to influence.

“In terms of TikTok’s behavior and its risk to national security, it poses a bigger threat than companies like Facebook and Instagram, YouTube and Twitter,” said Democratic Congressman Jamaal Bowman of New York — one of the platform’s most vocal supporters on the planet Congress in a press conference last week in defense of the app.

“So let’s not marginalize and target TikTok. Let’s have a full conversation about the laws we need: federal laws to make sure people using social media platforms are safe and their information is safe,” he said.

Worrying for conservatives and liberals alike, however, have been fears that the legislation could become a kind of “Trojan horse” that would give the federal government significant leverage over what Americans are allowed to say and hear online.

Some Conservatives feared the bill could lay the groundwork for wantonly censorship of any government opinion by banning motions purportedly designed to help “foreign adversaries” – like the so-called “RESTRICT Act” specifically requested by Congress will disagree.

In the case of the RESTRICT Act, the fears include language that leaves the federal government wide latitude to investigate and monitor content it deems harmful to U.S. national security or the integrity of U.S. elections with relatively little oversight , drawing some comparisons by conservatives to the controversial US The Patriot Act was passed after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

“This bill isn’t really about banning TikTok,” the Fox News host said said Tucker Carlson on his Wednesday night show. “It’s never about what they say. Instead, this law would give the federal government enormous, terrifying new powers to punish American citizens and regulate how they communicate with one another.”

news week emailed TikTok’s press office for comment. The strange alliance forms to protect TikTok

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