America vs. TikTok

A chamber of Congress just used vague security concerns to approve the forced sale or ban of a speech platform used by 170 million nationwide.

America vs. TikTok
Outside the Capitol. (Craig Hudson/Reuters)

Full story: If the House TikTok bill becomes law, the next stop is the courts

A fast-tracked bill to force the sale or ban of TikTok in the U.S. just blitzed through the House. But the real battleground will be the courts. We took a deep look at the upcoming legal brawl – and questioned whether any of this is constitutional:

“The proper relationship between government and citizen in the United States is that the citizen decides what to be exposed to and what ideologies to embrace,” Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.) said on the House floor Wednesday, speaking against the bill.

“How could it be that Congress should be working hard to devise a means to circumvent that prevailing principle of the First Amendment?” he added. “America confronts a grave challenge in China, and it will not prevail by becoming more like it.”

... The country’s precedent for national security outweighing free speech, Kreps said, is built on decades-old cases from times of military conflict, such as the 1798 Sedition Act, which criminalized “false, scandalous and malicious writing” about the federal government.

“Once national security is invoked, it gives almost unfettered latitude for the government to sidestep First Amendment concerns, because now this is almost like a wartime footing,” Kreps said. “It is unusual that this would take place outside a wartime circumstance. But the framing of this legislation is invoking that kind of threat.”

The FCC’s bans on foreign ownership of radio and TV stations were first imposed during a time of limited airwaves, not a sprawling global internet. “It does feel in that sense that we’re going back to some kind of Cold War-like media environment,” Kreps said, “where we’re now going to erect boundaries in the service of national security.”

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