Rep. Thomas Massie Calls TikTok Ban a ‘Trojan Horse’, Says the POTUS Will Be Granted Power to ‘Ban’ Websites Outright

by | Mar 13, 2024 | News

In recent legislative moves that could significantly reshape the digital landscape in the United States, the House of Representatives has passed a bill with bipartisan support that may lead to the banning of TikTok, the popular social media app, if its parent company, ByteDance, refuses to divest it. This development comes amid heightened concerns over national security and the potential misuse of American data by foreign adversaries, notably China.

The bill, titled the Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, targets social media apps under the control of countries deemed as foreign adversaries. It specifically mandates ByteDance to sell TikTok within approximately five months or face prohibition on app stores and web hosting services. The bill passed the House with a substantial majority, signaling a rare moment of bipartisan agreement on the issue of cybersecurity and foreign influence.

Where Does Thomas Massie Stands

Rep. Thomas Massie has voiced strong opposition to the proposed TikTok ban, expressing concern over the broad powers it would grant to the executive branch, potentially setting a dangerous precedent for internet freedom. He argues that the bill, while ostensibly aimed at banning TikTok, could extend far beyond a single app, granting the President the authority to ban entire websites.

Massie highlights that under the proposed legislation, it would be internet hosting services and app stores, rather than the foreign entities deemed adversaries, that would face legal consequences for non-compliance.

“The so-called TikTok ban is a trojan horse,” the congressman posted to X. “The President will be given the power to ban WEB SITES, not just Apps. The person breaking the new law is deemed to be the U.S. (or offshore) INTERNET HOSTING SERVICE or App Store, not the ‘foreign adversary.'”

This stance underscores a deep worry about the erosion of First Amendment rights and the expansive control over the digital domain the bill could allow, marking a significant point of contention within the broader legislative discourse.

The Lines That Are Drawn

President Joe Biden has expressed his willingness to sign the legislation, highlighting the administration’s stance on protecting national security interests over maintaining the status quo with the widely used video-sharing platform. The bill’s journey through the Senate remains uncertain, with key figures such as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer acknowledging the need for thorough review and potential modifications to the legislation.

According to Deadline, critics of the bill, including both Democrats and Republicans, raise concerns over free speech implications and the broad powers it would grant the executive branch in regulating online platforms. Figures such as Rep. Thomas Massie have voiced apprehensions about the bill’s reach, suggesting it could extend to the banning of websites, not just apps, and impact internet hosting services rather than directly targeting the entities considered foreign adversaries.

Supporters of the bill, including Rep. Mike Gallagher and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, argue that the legislation is a necessary step in safeguarding America’s digital infrastructure and ensuring that platforms like TikTok cannot be exploited by foreign powers to collect data on U.S. citizens or disseminate disinformation.

As debates continue in the Senate, the future of TikTok in the U.S. hangs in the balance, with potential implications for millions of American users and content creators who rely on the platform for communication, entertainment, and business.

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