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ACLU slams House for latest plan to ban TikTok and stifle free speech

Originally published: ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) on March 5, 2024 by ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) Staff (more by ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union))  | (Posted Mar 15, 2024)

The House Energy and Commerce Committee announced it would be voting on a bill this Thursday that would effectively ban TikTok in the United States. This bill, which was introduced by Reps. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), would violate the First Amendment rights of hundreds of millions of Americans who use the app to communicate and express themselves daily.

“We’re deeply disappointed that our leaders are once again attempting to trade our First Amendment rights for cheap political points during an election year,” said Jenna Leventoff, senior policy counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union.

Just because the bill sponsors claim that banning TikTok isn’t about suppressing speech, there’s no denying that it would do just that. We strongly urge legislators to vote no on this unconstitutional bill.

The ACLU has repeatedly explained that banning TikTok would have profound implications for our constitutional right to free speech and free expression because millions of Americans rely on the app every day for information, communication, advocacy, and entertainment. And the courts have agreed. In November 2023, a federal district court in Montana ruled that the state’s attempted ban would violate Montanans’ free speech rights and blocked it from going into effect.

Like Montana’s blocked TikTok ban, this legislation would forbid app stores and internet service providers from offering TikTok so long as the company remains under foreign ownership. The proposed legislation would also let the President block other foreign-owned apps that they deem a national security threat.

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