‘It’s a mistake’: Rand Paul opposes TikTok ban, cites First Amendment concerns

Congressional efforts to ban TikTok in the United States are underway but some lawmakers are coming out against such action with one of them being Republican Senator Rand Paul who cited First Amendment concerns in speaking out on why the government should not move to restrict Americans’ access to the popular Chinese-owned social media app.

With legislation to place severe restrictions on the use of the app which is used by millions to post short videos drawing bipartisan support at a time of increasingly tense relations between the United States and the communist regime in Beijing, some lawmakers are seeking to pump the breaks with the Kentucky Republican being among the detractors.

“I think it’s a really bad idea. And people need to ask themselves, ‘Why does the Chinese government ban TikTok, and do we want to emulate the Chinese government?’ So, I think it’s a mistake,” the senator told Fox News Digital, strongly suggesting that censorship is not the answer.”If you ban a social media platform, you know, I don’t know if you get any clearer that that goes against the First Amendment.”

“I’m for the First Amendment to the Constitution, which says that companies that operate in the United States, we shouldn’t limit their speech, or people who try to broadcast speech on those platforms,” he added.

In a column for the  Louisville Courier-Journal that was published on Wednesday, Paul expanded on his argument against the banning of an app that is currently used by “94 million, primarily young Americans,” adding that in addition to intruding upon the First Amendment, that Republican backing of the anti-TikTok legislation is a surefire political loser for the GOP.

“This GOP strategy comes while polls indicate that 71% of young women and 53% of young men voted for a Democrat candidate for Congress. Now admittedly, many Democrats have joined Republicans in calling for this ban but like most such issues, the blame will stick to Republicans more,” he wrote.

“The banning TikTok strategy also comes while the GOP simultaneously complains of liberal U.S. social media companies canceling and censoring conservatives. So, without a hint of irony, many of these same ‘conservatives’ now agitate to ban a platform owned by an international group that includes several American investors,” Sen. Paul wrote. “So, on the one hand, Republicans complain about censorship, while with the other hand, these same Republicans advocate to censor social media apps that they worry are influenced by the Chinese.”

“To those who are worried that the Chinese government might somehow now have access to millions of American teenagers’ information, realize that all social media sucks up personal data that people voluntarily provide. If you’re going to ban TikTok, what’s next? Arguably, several domestic apps censor conservatives more. I know, because I’ve been censored and banned,” added Paul. “I’ve got no love lost for any of these companies. I have a host of complaints about domestic social media platforms that ‘cancel’ conservatives but I’m not in favor of banning them or forcing them to accept my opinions.”

“If you don’t like TikTok or Facebook or YouTube, don’t use them. But don’t think any interpretation of the Constitution gives you the right to ban them,” Senator Paul added.

While Paul’s argument against the ban is rooted in traditional American values and constitutional principles, one Twitter user sounded a warning on the much darker aspects of one proposed bill.

“The bill to ban TikTok is absolutely terrifying. It gives the government the ability to go after anyone they deem as a national security risk at which point they can access everything from their computer to video games to their ring light,” warned State Freedom Caucus Network communications director Greg Price. “This is a Patriot Act for the internet.”

“Believe it or not, it gets even worse: If you find you in violation, they can put you in jail for 20 years, fine you $1M, and seize your property,” he added. “They can also deem any foreign government an adversary without informing congress and everything they do is not subjected to FOIA.”

“If this was about banning TikTok, they would pass a bill that simply bans TikTok,” Price wrote. “But the uniparty is trying to create the same system of domestic spying they did after 9/11 for the internet but on steroids.”

He also posted a list of the bill’s sponsors, a bipartisan list of those who consistently support such authoritarian measures.

“I hope saner minds will reflect on which is more dangerous: videos of teenagers dancing or the precedent of the US government banning speech. For me, it’s an easy answer, I will defend the Bill of Rights against all comers, even, if need be, from members of my own party,” Paul wrote in his op-ed.

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