Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) is urging Republican leadership not to pursue legislation designed to ban TikTok, the video-sharing app owned by the Chinese company ByteDance.
In comments to Axios, Massie expressed opposition to the RESTRICT Act, a piece of legislation introduced in the Senate that has received more than 20 bipartisan co-sponsors and is supported by the White House. The bill doesn’t mention TikTok but would give the commerce secretary sweeping powers to crack down on tech.
“I’ve communicated very politely to our leadership here that if you ever try to bring a bill like that here, we’re going to have even more problems in this chamber,” Massie said. The libertarian-leaning Kentucky congressman said he is part of “not just libertarian, but a populist revolt” against the RESTRICT Act.
Massie called the legislation “an excuse to grow government … [to give them] the power to be judge and jury.” He said he had no “affinity for TikTok” but said the “cure is worse than the disease.”
Over in the Senate, another Kentucky Republican has been leading the charge against the TikTok ban. Last month, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) blocked a bill introduced by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) that would prohibit TikTok from being downloaded in the US.
In an op-ed for the Courier Journal, Paul came out hard against banning TikTok. “If you don’t like TikTok or Facebook or YouTube, don’t use them. But don’t think any interpretation of the Constitution gives you the right to ban them,” he wrote.
The allegation against TikTok is that since its owned by a Chinese company, the Chinese government could access its data, similar to how the FBI and NSA have backdoor access to data from Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft, and other US tech platforms. But TikTok’s CEO has denied the allegations and is cooperating with the US government to prevent the app from being banned.
Paul pointed out in his op-ed that TikTok is cooperating with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States to “make sure all data on Americans is protected from any Chinese government snooping.” He also said TikTok has agreed to “house all the data on Oracle’s Cloud with access to US government oversight.”