House Passes TikTok Divestment Bill; Massie, Musk Rail Against 'Trojan Horse' First Amendment Implications

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by Tyler Durden
Thursday, Mar 14, 2024 - 09:40 AM

Update (1040ET): The House has passed the TikTok divestment bill by a vote of 352-65-1.

There were 15 Republicans who voted against it, and 50 Democrats.

It heads to the Senate next, where it already enjoys the support of Senate Intel Chair Mark Warner (D-VA) and Vice Chair Marco Rubio (R-FL).

"We were encouraged by today’s strong bipartisan vote... and look forward to working together to get this bill passed through the Senate and signed into law," the pair said in a statement.

As noted below, Biden says he'll sign it if Congress can put it on his desk.

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Voting on the 'TikTok' bill has begun in the House, where it needs at least 2/3 of the vote to pass.

Prior to the vote, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) took to the floor to rail against the bill, saying that "there's some of us who feel that - intentionally, or unintentionally, this legislation to ban TikTok is actually a trojan horse.

"Some of us are concerned that there are First Amendment implications here. Americans have the right to view information, and don't need to be protected by the government from information."


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This week the House will hold a vote on a bipartisan bill that would prevent the social media app TikTok from appearing in app stores unless it's able to be "fully divested" from Chinese-owned parent company ByteDance.

Following a unanimous vote on March 7, The Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act (H.R.7521) advanced from the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and will now receive a full vote on Wednesday at around 10 a.m. according to Reuters.

The bill was introduced on March 5 by 19 members of the House Select Committee on the CCP - including Chair Mike Gallagher (R-WI) and ranking member Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL).

The bill also has the support of President Biden, who said "I'll sign it" if Congress puts it on his desk.

Trojan Horse?

The rushed bill, seemingly out of nowhere - and just weeks after the Biden campaign made a TikTok account (and posted to it) on Super Bowl Sunday, has raised concerns over government overreach.

On Tuesday, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) noted on X, "The so-called TikTok ban is a trojan horse" that would give the President the power to "ban WEB SITES," not just apps.

"If you think this isn’t a Trojan horse and will only apply to TikTok and foreign-adversary social media companies, then contemplate why someone thought it was important to get a very specific exclusion for their internet based business written into the bill," he added.

Expanding on this was The Federalist's Sean Davis, who wrote in a lengthy post on X (emphasis ours):

Here’s what’s actually going on with the TikTok fight right now.

Deep State toadies are taking advantage of anti-China sentiment to transfer TikTok’s surveillance apparatus from China’s evil surveillance state to the U.S. government’s evil surveillance state.

TikTok isn’t going to be banned, because neither the CCP-run Chinese government nor the CCP-owned U.S. government wants to lose such a valuable tool for spying on Americans and poisoning the minds of their children. Instead, the corrupt U.S. intelligence bureaucracy wants control of TikTok, which is why it included the divestment mandate.

Only a handful of U.S. companies are capable of buying and managing TikTok, and they already function as appendages of the Deep State surveillance apparatus.

It’s not that the U.S. government wants to protect you from spying and data theft and manipulation. If only. No, the people behind the Russian collusion hoax, and the Kavanaugh hoax, and the natural origin COVID hoax, and the illegal warrantless spying, and the forced transing of your children—they want to be the ones spying on you and stealing your data and poisoning the minds of your children.

Now, should a spying and subversion tool used by our communist enemies to destroy us be banned? Yeah, obviously, for the same reason that we never would’ve allowed the Soviet Union to infiltrate our homes with their own radios and television sets during the Cold War. But that’s not what’s happening here.

Your government won’t even shoot down a Communist Chinese spy balloon, or prevent the Communist Chinese government from gobbling up your farmland, or stop the Communist Chinese government from stealing the products you make, dumping them into your market at below-market prices, and then driving you out of business. Heck, when the literal Chinese spy chief bought off the Biden family by funneling a million dollars to Hunter Biden, DOJ didn’t even bat an eyelash.

There’s no evidence anywhere that the regime that currently controls America has any interest in fighting off China’s attempts to cripple our country economically, militarily, or diplomatically. But suddenly they want you to believe they’re deeply concerned about TikTok.

I’m just not buying it, and neither should you.

Mea Culpa

While TikTok has been long accused of curating degenerate content to feed the minds of Western youth, this, and worse, is what all social media platforms have been doing for years.

And with regards to the ongoing chess game to decide the fate of TikTok - on one hand, the Wall Street Journal just reported that the company believed they had scored a recent victory, including the Biden campaign embracing the platform, yet "Behind the scenes in Washington, a bipartisan group of lawmakers and Biden administration officials had been quietly planning new legislation to ban TikTok or force its sale to a non-Chinese owner."

On the other hand, Donald Trump - who has previously pushed to ban TikTok, came out against the bill (after meeting with Billionaire TikTok investor Jeff Yass who holds a 15% stake in ByteDance) - leading some to suggest that the former president had "sold out."

We also learned from Politico that former Trump Aide Kellyanne Conway has begun lobbying for TikTok on behalf of the conservative Club for Growth - of which Yass is a large financial backer - and at whose retreat Trump praised Yass as "fantastic."

So, lots of chess going on and forces at work.

Yet, after further consideration, this Tyler got it wrong. As ZeroHedge commenter PrintCash pointed out on Monday, this is both a free speech issue and a matter of limited government vs. legislative overreach that - based on the above, appears to set the stage for widespread abuse.