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ACLU urges Congress not to ban TikTok

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has urged Congress to not pass proposed legislation that would impose a ban on TikTok in the U.S., despite potential security concerns surrounding the social media platform.

In a letter sent to the offices of Reps. Michael McCaul (R-Texas.) and Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), the nonprofit organization wrote that the legislation would violate “the First Amendment rights of millions of Americans who use the app to communicate and express themselves daily.” 

ACLU also claimed the House Foreign Affairs Committee — on which both McCaul and Meeks serve as members — did not follow regular order on the bill, noting that it was already scheduled for a markup before a congressional hearing was held on the matter. 

“Should the bill move to a vote, we urge you to vote ‘no,’” the organization wrote. “In a purported attempt to protect the data of U.S. persons from Chinese government acquisition, this legislation will instead limit Americans’ political discussion, artistic expression, free exchange of ideas — and even prevent people from posting cute animal videos and memes.”

“While the ACLU’s opposition today rests on free speech harms, we note that with more time to review this legislation, we anticipate finding other sweeping implications,” the letter continued. 

The organization also explained that the Trump administration’s failed attempt to ban TikTok in 2020 showed how selective bans of social media platforms “could cut off the flow of information, art, and communication” that those platforms provide for worldwide users. They specifically highlighted how the problems with former President Trump’s initial ban proposal are even stronger in the latest proposed legislation, noting how “the provisions will pertain to even more apps and businesses.” 

ACLU also wrote that the Deterring America’s Technological Adversaries Act, referred to as HR 1153 in the letter, would create an exception to the Berman Amendment, an amendment that limits the president’s power to regulate informational materials such as publications, films, posters, photographs and news feeds. 

“Americans have a right to use TikTok and other platforms to exchange our thoughts, ideas, and opinions with people around the country and around the world,” the organization concluded in its letter. “The ACLU strongly urges you to oppose the bill and support our constitutional right to express ourselves — both online and off.”

The House Foreign Affairs Committee is set to debate on HR 1153, first proposed by McCaul, on Tuesday, as some Democratic members have opposed the proposed bill. 

A Democratic spokesperson told Punchbowl News that Meek is willing to work on a bipartisan effort to address cybersecurity threats posed by Chinese-based firms under the influence of its government, noting that his colleague McCaul’s “hastily introduced legislation would result in sanctions on companies in allied countries in Europe and Asia.”

Multiple state governments and Congress in recent months have implemented TikTok bans on government devices, citing national security concerns due to its Chinese owner ByteDance. The White House on Monday issued a 30-day notice for government agencies to delete the social media platform from their official devices. 

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, who is set to appear before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in March, said in an interview with The Washington Post earlier this month that “tougher conversations” are needed on the future of the platform in the U.S., adding that he hopes that lawmakers will come around with their viewpoints on his platform.





The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has urged Congress to not pass proposed legislation that would impose a ban on TikTok in the U.S., despite potential security concerns surrounding the social media platform.

In a letter sent to the offices of Reps. Michael McCaul (R-Texas.) and Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), the nonprofit organization wrote that the legislation would violate “the First Amendment rights of millions of Americans who use the app to communicate and express themselves daily.” 

ACLU also claimed the House Foreign Affairs Committee — on which both McCaul and Meeks serve as members — did not follow regular order on the bill, noting that it was already scheduled for a markup before a congressional hearing was held on the matter. 

“Should the bill move to a vote, we urge you to vote ‘no,’” the organization wrote. “In a purported attempt to protect the data of U.S. persons from Chinese government acquisition, this legislation will instead limit Americans’ political discussion, artistic expression, free exchange of ideas — and even prevent people from posting cute animal videos and memes.”

“While the ACLU’s opposition today rests on free speech harms, we note that with more time to review this legislation, we anticipate finding other sweeping implications,” the letter continued. 

The organization also explained that the Trump administration’s failed attempt to ban TikTok in 2020 showed how selective bans of social media platforms “could cut off the flow of information, art, and communication” that those platforms provide for worldwide users. They specifically highlighted how the problems with former President Trump’s initial ban proposal are even stronger in the latest proposed legislation, noting how “the provisions will pertain to even more apps and businesses.” 

ACLU also wrote that the Deterring America’s Technological Adversaries Act, referred to as HR 1153 in the letter, would create an exception to the Berman Amendment, an amendment that limits the president’s power to regulate informational materials such as publications, films, posters, photographs and news feeds. 

“Americans have a right to use TikTok and other platforms to exchange our thoughts, ideas, and opinions with people around the country and around the world,” the organization concluded in its letter. “The ACLU strongly urges you to oppose the bill and support our constitutional right to express ourselves — both online and off.”

The House Foreign Affairs Committee is set to debate on HR 1153, first proposed by McCaul, on Tuesday, as some Democratic members have opposed the proposed bill. 

A Democratic spokesperson told Punchbowl News that Meek is willing to work on a bipartisan effort to address cybersecurity threats posed by Chinese-based firms under the influence of its government, noting that his colleague McCaul’s “hastily introduced legislation would result in sanctions on companies in allied countries in Europe and Asia.”

Multiple state governments and Congress in recent months have implemented TikTok bans on government devices, citing national security concerns due to its Chinese owner ByteDance. The White House on Monday issued a 30-day notice for government agencies to delete the social media platform from their official devices. 

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, who is set to appear before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in March, said in an interview with The Washington Post earlier this month that “tougher conversations” are needed on the future of the platform in the U.S., adding that he hopes that lawmakers will come around with their viewpoints on his platform.

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