Free Speech

Tell Congress: Stop the TikTok Ban

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Congress is fast-tracking a bill that would effectively ban TikTok in the US, but do little for its alleged goal of protecting our private information and the collection of our data by foreign governments. Tell Congress: Instead of giving the President the power to ban entire social media platforms based on their country of origin, our representatives should focus on what matters—protecting our data no matter who is collecting it.

The “Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act” would give the President the power to designate an application under the control of a country considered adversarial to the U.S. to be a national security threat. TikTok would be deemed a threat, meaning that the application would effectively be banned unless it cuts all ties with the foreign adversarial country within 180 days through a forced sale. The same could be true for other applications, like WeChat.

It’s a massive problem that current US law allows for all the big social media platforms to harvest and monetize our personal data, including TikTok. Without comprehensive data privacy legislation, this will continue, and this ban won’t solve any real or perceived problems. User data will still be collected by numerous platforms and sold to data brokers who sell it to the highest bidder—including governments of countries such as China—just as it is now.

TikTok raises special concerns, given the surveillance and censorship practices of the country that its parent company is based in, China. But it’s also used by hundreds of millions of people to express themselves online, and is an instrumental tool for community building and holding those in power accountable. The US government has not justified silencing the speech of Americans who use TikTok, nor has it justified the indirect speech punishment of a forced sale (which may prove difficult if not impossible to accomplish in the required timeframe). It can’t meet the high constitutional bar for a restriction on the platform, which would undermine the free speech and association rights of millions of people. This bill must be stopped.


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