Pundits Divided After House Passes Bill That Could Ban TikTok

by State Brief

Political pundits took to X on Wednesday to opine about the perceived necessity or danger of a bill passed by the House that could ban TikTok.

The Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act would require TikTok’s China-based parent company ByteDance to divest — or be banned from all American app stores and web hosting.

The bipartisan legislation, which was introduced by Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher and Democrat Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, was passed in a 352-65 vote this morning.

Journalist Michael Tracey said “the bill goes well beyond banning TikTok,” citing language in the bill that allows the targeting of any “website, desktop application, mobile application, or augmented or immersive technology application” purported to be “foreign adversary controlled.”

Tracey noted that this would apply to China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran.

He also referred to the concern expressed by Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH), who pointed out that the term “application” is so “wide-ranging” that it could result in prohibitions of other apps, like Telegram.

— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) March 13, 2024

“The bill authorizes future expulsion actions to be taken unilaterally by the President, provided he ‘determines,’ using unspecified criteria, that an application ‘presents a significant threat to the national security of the United States,’” Tracey continued. “The bill empowers the President to make unilateral determinations about banning future apps in the name of ‘national security.’ Congress is granting the Executive unilateral authority in this area.”

“I don’t support handing radical new speech-abridging powers to either Joe Biden or Donald Trump,” he added.

However, Brendan Carr, a member of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), argued the legislation has a “targeted application.”

“The text is definitive on this point. The bill does not apply to just any social media platform. Far from it,” Carr wrote in response to an X post from Tucker Carlson that suggested the law could be applied to any social media platform.

The FCC commissioner said the bill only applies to apps controlled by one of the four previously mentioned adversarial governments.

“The bill is clear that it is not enough to merely have operations there or do business there. It must be *controlled* by one of those four governments,” Carr wrote. “Even then, the bill only applies if the application presents a demonstrated and significant threat to national security. Control by one of four foreign governments alone isn’t even enough under the bill.”

Here is the only and targeted application:

1. If you’re an individual user, the bill confers… https://t.co/0ECh0sHxQH

— Brendan Carr (@BrendanCarrFCC) March 12, 2024

He noted that this process could only proceed after Congress provided a specific description of the nature of the national security threat.

“Every single one of those hoops (and more) must be cleared and met. So it is very narrow. It confers no authority to go after any other application—even if someone were to allege that it engaged in election interference,” he concluded.

Breaking Points host Saagar Enjeti said the arguments presented by Tracey and Carr each present “good cases for and against” the bill, but added that an aspect missing from the debate was “basic market principles.”

“If we cannot do business in your country, then you don’t get to do it in ours,” he said. “If you oppose this then you oppose the notion of sovereignty and reciprocal trade itself.”

Enjeti continued: “That is why IMO a forced sale is the correct option (as Trump pursued in 2019). While you may suspect US tech cos and their entanglements at least that is in our own country run by our citizens who are subject to US laws which we have the ability to change.”

“I have read the bill and I completely understand concerns around overreach,” he added. “But this bill is NOT the RESTRICT act. There’s an onerous processes [sic] in place required to force the type of action TikTok will be subject to. No US tech co would or could qualify under this.”

Enjeti also encouraged fellow X users to “read the bill for yourself.”

— Saagar Enjeti (@esaagar) March 13, 2024

Clint Russell, a prominent libertarian who hosts the Liberty Lockdown podcast, predicted people will ultimately view the bill with the “same shame that most people feel when it comes to their support for the Patriot Act.”

“This bill was left intentionally vague because it is simply a vehicle intended to give the federal government massive new controls over the internet,” he wrote.

“The very same government that used DHS, CDC etc to dictate censorship practices on Twitter and every other social media platform when it came to covid ‘misinfo’ or Hunter Biden’s laptop or the New York Post’s story on the topic. … All of which was illegal and made them look bad when the truth came out,” Russell continued. “This bill helps them avoid future reputational damage as the pressure they can apply will now force all internet companies to acquiesce more readily.”

— Clint Russell (@LibertyLockPod) March 13, 2024

He referred to the bill as a “huge mistake” and accused federal officials of seeking a monopoly on propaganda.

“The CCP is not your friend but if you still think the federal government is your ally, you’ve learned nothing,” he added.

Former UFC fighter Jake Shields suggested the legislation was crafted because “TikTok has 10 times more pro-Palestinian content that pro-Israel content.”

“This is why it must be banned not because it’s owned by a Chinese company,” he said.

This is why it must be banned not because it’s owned by a Chinese company

This bill also applies in gives congress the ability to ban all websites and apps that they see as a threat in the future

— Jake Shields (@jakeshieldsajj) March 13, 2024

Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro said, “Now it’s up to the Senate to pass the TikTok Chinese ownership ban. And they should.”

Cassandra MacDonald contributed to this report.

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