- Sen. Rand Paul is speaking out against a possible ban on TikTok, contradicting much of his own party.
- He said a ban amounts to a “national strategy to permanently lose elections for a generation” for the GOP.
- Paul also said the US would be emulating China’s authoritarian system, where TikTok is also banned.
As congressional Republicans increasingly clamor for a ban on the popular video-sharing app TikTok, at least one is speaking out against the idea: Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.
In an op-ed for the Louisville Courier Journal, Paul argued that seeking a ban on TikTok was not just bad policy, but bad politics.
“Congressional Republicans have come up with a national strategy to permanently lose elections for a generation,” he wrote. According to TikTok, the app now has 150 million active monthly users in the United States.
Paul, a staunch libertarian, went on to compare the idea of banning the app to the purported “canceling and censoring” of conservatives on social media, and said that the US would only be emulating China if they sought to ban the app.
“Before banning TikTok, these censors might want to discover that China’s government already bans TikTok,” wrote Paul. “Hmmm… do we really want to emulate China’s speech bans?”
In recent weeks, calls to ban TikTok over concerns over Chinese government surveillance have only grown in Washington. Several members of Congress have introduced bills to ban the app, and at a House hearing last week, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew faced blistering questions from both Republicans and Democrats.
A handful of members of Congress have defended the app from calls for a ban, including Democratic Reps. Jamaal Bowman and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.
While mostly progressive Democrats have opposed the ban, some Republicans have also expressed skepticism about it.
“I’m a little less enthusiastic about an all-out ban of it,” Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota told Insider in February. “What I don’t want is to create a trend where every time we get irritated with somebody, we ban their product from our country altogether.”
Paul’s position puts him at odds with other prominent Republicans like Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Josh Hawley of Missouri, who have both introduces nationwide TikTok ban bills.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, the highest-ranking elected Republican in Washington, said on Twitter this week that he supported “moving forward” with legislation that could result in a ban.
—Kevin McCarthy (@SpeakerMcCarthy) March 26, 2023
But some Democrats have also called for banning TikTok, and any final banning of the app would require the sign-off of President Joe Biden.