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Elon Musk: TikTok Bill Is ‘About Censorship And Government Control’

Elon Musk Raises Alarm on Intrusive Social Media Legislation

Elon Musk, Owner of Twitter

High-profile tech mogul Elon Musk recently expressed apprehension regarding a bill currently circulating in Congress. This legislative proposal aims to restrict U.S. access to social media platforms like the globally popular, Chinese-originated TikTok, unless these platforms sever connections with foreign entities classified as national security threats.

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Musk, known for his pronounced belief in unfettered expression and the originator of the ‘Twitter Files,’ resonated with a comment by Representative Thomas Massie. In his statement, Massie pointed out crucial elements of the bill, which concern both businesses and websites rendering services to such social media platforms found guilty of violating the draft law.

Massie articulated his worries on an unknown platform, stating that the impending TikTok prohibition could be a cover for additional control and censorship. The power would then lie with the President to bar not just apps, but entire websites, with the defaulters being U.S. or offshore internet hosting services and application stores, rather than the so-called ‘foreign adversaries’.

Reacting to Massie’s comment, Musk proclaimed that the potential law is not solely about TikTok, but instead an issue about overarching governmental control and stifling free speech. Musk stressed that if foreign control were the sole concern of the legislation, it would have been explicitly addressed, which it was not in the proposal.

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Identified as the ‘Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act,’ the bill could potentially transform legislation thanks to bipartisan cooperation that brought Congress members from across the aisle together, including Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

The Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, in a press statement, delineated the proposed law’s implications: prohibition of app store access and web hosting services in the U.S. for applications, including TikTok, controlled by ByteDance, unless all ties to entities designated as foreign adversaries under Congress’ Title 10 criteria are severed.

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Additionally, the proposed law seeks to initiate a method by which the President could categorize certain social media applications as posing a national security risk if they fall under foreign adversary control, again referring to the definitions laid out in Title 10. These designated applications would face similar restrictions unless they take steps to severe ties with foreign adversaries through divestment.

After an overwhelming endorsement from the House Energy and Commerce Committee, numbering 50-0 votes in favor, the proposed law looks set for a House floor vote. President Joe Biden has indicated his eagerness to sign the legislation if passed by both houses of Congress.

In response, TikTok cautioned that the implementation of the bill would infringe upon the First Amendment rights of hundreds of millions of American users and obstruct the growth of a vast number of small businesses that use the platform for their operations. TikTok urged its community to voice their opinion against the legislation which reportedly led to a flood of calls to Congressional offices.

Representative Mike Gallagher, chairman of the House Select Committee on Strategic Competition Between the United States and China, along with ranking panel member Raja Krishnamoorthi, were instrumental in introducing this potentially transformative legislation.

Gallagher responded to Musk and Massie’s posts by standing by the proposed legislation. According to him, the bill is designed to primarily target foreign adversary-controlled social media and not websites as a whole. He outlined the very specific circumstances under which an entity could be considered a national security threat.

The legislator further argued that the bill is not against internet websites at large, but specifically targets those integral to the operation of a social media application controlled by an adversary, like TikTok. He countered that the Communist Party in China does not enjoy First Amendment rights to leverage malintent operations within the United States, and it is essential to compel Chinese-owned ByteDance to sell TikTok.

Gallagher concluded with a stark choice for TikTok: choose its users’ right to free expression and continue its American operation free from fear of propaganda and censorship, or align with the Chinese Communist Party. The decision, he highlighted, rests firmly on TikTok’s shoulders.

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