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Evaluating U.S.-China Policy in the Era of Extreme Competition.

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Republican Senator Rand Paul on Wednesday opposed efforts in Congress to ban popular Chinese-owned social media app TikTok, which is used by more than 150 million Americans.

Paul argued that the bill would limit free speech and emulate censorship from the Chinese government.

“There are two main reasons why we might not want to do this. The one would be the First Amendment to the Constitution. Speech is protected whether you like it or not,” Paul said. “The second reason… is that the Constitution actually prohibits bills of attainder. You’re not allowed to have a specific bill against a person or a company. So, this fails on two egregious points, pretty obvious points, and I think we ought to think about that.”

“I think we should be wary of those who peddle fear. I think we should be wary of those who use fear to coax Americans to relinquish our liberties, to regulate and limit our First Amendment rights. Every accusation of data-gathering that’s been attributed to TikTok could also be attributed to domestic Big Tech companies,” Paul said. “In fact, one of the bills they’re looking at doing is broad enough that the president will be given the power to designate whatever country he sees fit to be an adversary and whatever company underneath that definition. It would basically be a limitless authority for the president to ban speech.”

Several other conservatives also oppose the bill. Former Republican Representative Justin Amash said the “RESTRICT Act isn’t about banning TikTok; it’s about controlling you. It gives broad powers to the executive branch, with few checks, and will be abused in every way you can imagine.”