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Tipsheet

Rand Paul, Josh Hawley Get Into Heated Exchange Over Potential TikTok Ban

Jacquelyn Martin

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) got into a heated exchange over the ban of the China-owned app TikTok in the U.S. 

Paul hit the brakes on Hawley’s proposed bill to ban the platform, arguing it would limit free speech and emulate censorship from the Chinese government.

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In a speech on the Senate floor, Hawley requested unanimous consent on the No TikTok on United States Devices Act, legislation he introduced in January, warning that American data is being collected on the social media app by the platform’s Beijing-based parent company, ByteDance. 

“We acted just a few months ago with a sense of urgency because we decided TikTok was a national security threat,” Hawley said. “And we were right to act just those few months ago. And now, we must take the next step — to ban TikTok nationwide to protect the security of every single American.”

However, Paul interjected, saying it would go against the First Amendment. 

“We should not let fear of communism cause us to ignore our First Amendment protections of free speech. This legislation would require our president to ban TikTok,” Paul said. “I ask the American people, do you want Joe Biden to be your censor? Do you want a president of either party to decide what you are allowed to say and hear? Who will you entrust to save you from your own eyes and ears?”

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The two Republicans failed to see eye to eye during Wednesday night’s hearing. Hawley has joined a handful of Republicans pushing for the app to be banned in the states as well, arguing that foreign technologies could pose security risks. 

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) spoke out against Paul, saying the ban was not about the app’s content but rather China’s motive to spy on Americans. 

“This is not a First Amendment issue because we’re not trying to ban ‘booty videos’ — I don’t know that there’s a better term for it,” Rubio said on the Senate floor. “It’s not about the content of the videos that are online. It is about the dangers to our national security that are presented by the way this company functions.”

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