Banning TikTok — concerning National Security, Civil Rights & Investments

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In the last week of April, Congress passed, and President Biden signed, a law banning TikTok in the United States if its parent company, ByteDance, did not sell it to an American company within 12 months.

The New York Times Senior writer David Leonhardt provides a good summary of why this bill was passed. It is a highly unusual step since TikTok is a popular social media platform. About one-third of Americans under 30 regularly get their news from it, and Congress rarely punishes a single company for a suspected or possible behavior.

Christopher Wray, the director of the F.B.I., articulated the main reason for taking this action. He told Congress, “This is a tool that is ultimately within the control of the Chinese government,” since under President Xi Jinping’s rule, private companies are treated as extensions of the state.

The argument for banning TikTok seems straightforward — protect national security.

Zephyr Teachout, a Fordham Law School professor, argues in the Atlantic that America has a long history of shielding infrastructure and communication platforms from foreign control. Beginning with the Constitutional Convention in 1787, the Framers feared that foreign powers would exploit America’s open form of government to serve their…