Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has been a major critic of the RESTRICT Act, which has been sold to Congress and the public as a ban on TikTok.
He warned that it would authorize the federal government to censor any online communications it deems subversive and would nullify the First Amendment.
The popular social media app, which is controlled by a Chinese company with ties to the Chinese Communist Party, has more than 150 million monthly users in the United States alone and is used mainly by people under 30.
The app has been controversial for years, as concerns over security have led to several statewide bans of the app on government devices.
Legislation Faces More Opposition
Former President Donald Trump failed in his attempt to ban TikTok in the United States during his presidency, but momentum has been building ever since.
In April, President Joe Biden demanded that TikTok’s owners divest their stakes in the company or face a nationwide ban.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) co-sponsored the RESTRICT Act, which now has the support of over 20 senators, to give the Commerce Department the power to impose restrictions—up to and including outright bans—on TikTok and other technologies that may pose a national security risk.
It would mainly apply to foreign apps and software from countries deemed hostile to the United States, like China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, and Cuba.
The legislation also empowers the Secretary of Commerce to unilaterally add any other country to the list.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said the House would draw up a bill to address the Chinese app, but the timeline is unclear.
On May 5, Paul published a column on conservative news website Townhall, warning that the bill “bestows an astonishing amount of power to the Executive branch in a manner that the Chinese Communist Party would approve of.”
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