Grave Warnings About The “Dangerous” TikTok Bill


Matt Taibbi has an article at Racket News on substack, which is available to everyone. He sounds the alarm over the “dangerous” TikTok ban. The bill is titled the Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act. Taibbi’s concerns are about the free speech issue and the power we would give the Executive Branch – Joe Biden – if we allow this bill to go through.

Taibbi reminds everyone what happened with George Bush’s Patriot Act. The act lets the government pretty much do whatever it wants. This TikTok ban has the same potential.

The way he sees it, Biden could shut down websites or apps before the election. If that doesn’t influence anyone, to those who think DJT is a dictator, so could Donald Trump if he’s elected.

Matt Taibbi has been a liberal all his life, but he does a good job of presenting information in a neutral way.

This is an excerpt from his article:

The bill passed in the House that’s likely to win the Senate and be swiftly signed into law by the White House’s dynamic Biden hologram is at best tangentially about TikTok.

You’ll find the real issue in the fine print. There, the “technical assistance” the drafters of the bill reportedly received from the White House shines through.

Look particularly at the first highlighted portion and sections (i) and (ii) of (3)B:

As written, any “website, desktop application, mobile application, or augmented or immersive technology application” that is “determined by the President to present a significant threat to the National Security of the United States” is covered.

Currently, the definition of “foreign adversary” includes Russia, Iran, North Korea, and China.

The definition of “controlled,” meanwhile, turns out to be a word salad, applying to:

(A) a foreign person that is domiciled in, is headquartered in, has its principal place of business in, or is organized under the laws of a foreign adversary country;

(B) an entity with respect to which a foreign person or combination of foreign persons described in subparagraph (A) directly or indirectly own at least a 20 percent stake; or

(C) a person subject to the direction or control of a foreign person or entity described in subparagraph (A) or (B).

A “foreign adversary controlled application,” in other words, can be any company founded or run by someone living at the wrong foreign address, or containing a small minority ownership stake. Or it can be any company run by someone “subject to the direction” of either of those entities. Or, it’s anything the president says it is. Vague enough?

As Newsweek reported, the bill was fast-tracked after a secret “intelligence community briefing” of Congress led by the FBI, Department of Justice, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). The magazine noted that if everything goes as planned, the bill will give Biden the authority to shut down an app used by 150 million Americans just in time for the November elections.

Taibbi writes that the intelligence community has recaptured most of the legislative branch. One principled defender, Rand Paul, sees the power grab for what it is.

“Look at their legislative proposals,” Paul said, noting many want to “set up government agencies and panels” on speech, effectively saying, “If you’re not putting enough conservatives on there, by golly, we’re going to have a government commission that’s going to determine what kind of content gets on there.”

These, he said, are “scary ideas,Taibbi concludes.

During an interview with Tucker, Paul also pointed out that you can’t just take people’s stuff in America. You have to prove your complaints.

Taibbi says, “…this bill is so dangerous, the moment so suddenly and unexpectedly grave, that we both recommend anyone who can find the time to call or write their Senators to express opposition to any coming Senate vote. It might help. Yes, collection of personal information and content manipulation by the Chinese government (or Russia’s, or ours) are serious problems, but the wider view is the speech emergency. As the cliché goes, forget the furniture. The house is on fire. Let’s hope we’re not too late.

To present the other side is RINO-ish Erick Erickson, who can be right. Here’s an excerpt from his newsletter today:

TikTok is an app for sharing short videos that keep people entertained. It is how more and more Gen Z kids get their news and information.  It is also a massive Chinese surveillance application.  Though TikTok claims to be headquartered in Singapore, its parent company, ByteDance, is a Chinese company ultimately controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.

ByteDance has given the Chinese government access to its servers and systems. It has shared its algorithm with the Chinese government and has, in at least one documented case, allowed the Chinese government to spy on journalists through its system.  ByteDance has also structured TikTok to share disinformation and propaganda. The Wall Street Journal recently reported one data scientist found TikTok showed pro-Palestinian videos to its audience at a rate of 69 for every 1 pro-Israel video.  TikTok has also notoriously been a platform used to indoctrinate kids into transgenderism.

He says it does not impact free speech.

A bipartisan movement in Congress has advanced legislation that would force ByteDance to sell its interests in TikTok.  The well-crafted legislation would not impact the freedom of speech of TikTok’s users.  What it would do is force China to give up control of TikTok.  Some liars and some propagandists claim the government would also use the legislation to punish Twitter.  But the legislation very carefully and clearly only applies to apps and websites whose server content is controlled by Russia, China, North Korea, or Iran.  As long as those entities do not control Twitter’s servers, it has nothing to worry about.  Anyone claiming otherwise is simply wrong or lying.

Erickson blames Trump for conservatives now opposing the bill, but that doesn’t give them credit. They don’t blindly follow Trump.

If Congress truly wanted to simply ban TikTok, they would have written a one-page bill to ban it, and no vague, dangerous language would have been included.

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