(UnitedVoice.com) – The debate over TikTok is still raging years after former President Donald Trump called it into question as a matter of national security. While many states, and the federal government, have taken steps to ban the app from government-issued devices, there’s still the lingering question of whether to ban the platform in its entirety. These concerns stem from the ownership of TikTok, Beijing-based company ByteDance. Many fear that the app’s data-collecting capabilities are giving China too much information. Lawmakers have introduced numerous pieces of legislation to ban the app, but one Republican senator is breaking ranks with his party over the move.
On March 29, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) published an opinion piece in the Courier Journal, discussing the Republican Party’s move to ban TikTok. Unlike other members of the GOP who are eager to push legislation through, Paul is hesitant — for more than one reason. He says the move would make the US more like China.
Paul calls into question the GOP’s hypocrisy in regard to the First Amendment when he says, “on the one hand, Republicans complain about censorship, while with the other hand … [they] advocate to censor social media apps” that they assume promotes Chinese influence over Americans.
Rand Paul, citing the First Amendment, blocks an attempt by Josh Hawley to fast-track a complete ban of TikTok. Paul then ridicules Republicans who purport to oppose online censorship, but now suddenly demand that the federal government impose censorship on an unprecedented scale pic.twitter.com/TDl4V1DIJ5
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) March 30, 2023
Second, Paul then explains that if users really want to see the extent of China’s influence on the app, open it up and search for videos about Taiwan’s independence or “search for Falun Gong,” a religious sect persecuted by China. He believes this, along with the fact that TikTok is banned in the Asian country, shows that it’s not the threat Republicans make it out to be.
The Kentucky senator says that the premise is simple: don’t like the platform? Don’t use it, but also don’t ban it, because that would violate the First Amendment, which is there to protect unpopular or controversial speech. He ends by saying he will “defend the Bill of Rights” against anyone, even members of his own party, and he hopes “saner minds” will prevail.
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