Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said he plans to block a move by fellow Republican Sen. Josh Hawley (Mo.) to pass a bill that would ban TikTok in the U.S., arguing the bill would limit free speech and emulate censorship from the Chinese government.
“If you don’t like TikTok or Facebook or YouTube, don’t use them,” Paul said in an op-ed for the Courier Journal on Wednesday. “But don’t think any interpretation of the Constitution gives you the right to ban them.”
Paul’s office said he planned to object to Hawley’s move to pass his “No TikTok on United States Devices Act” bill when the Missouri Senator tries to get the legislation passed by unanimous consent this week.
The push by Hawley to ban TikTok is the latest chapter in a debate about the future of the platform in Congress.
Officials have flagged concerns about the security of user data on the platform because TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, is owned in part by a Chinese investor.
Lawmakers have sounded the alarm that the potential relationship between TikTok and the Chinese government could pose security risks.
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew was grilled by lawmakers last week about the platform’s data security practices, with a growing number of legislators seemingly coming out in favor of a ban of the app.
But Hawley’s bill to ban TikTok has been countered by a bipartisan bill, led by Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and John Thune (R-S.D.), that would give the Commerce Department the ability to regulate and ultimately ban foreign technologies such as TikTok.
Warner said earlier this week that the White House was in favor of he and Thune’s bill.