The Plans to Ban TikTok Aren’t Really about TikTok
This commentary was originally published in Barron’s on March 8, 2023.
Senator John Thune (R-SD) recently described the 118th Congress as off to “an incredibly slow start.” All that has changed. Members of Congress are now lining up to propose new ways to ban TikTok, the wildly popular social media app where millions of Gen Zers watched Olivia Rodrigo become an overnight musical sensation, Dr. Fauci promote Covid-19 vaccines, and friends and family share comedic cat videos.
Thune and Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) introduced the Restrict Act on March 7. It would enable the secretary of commerce to block technology companies based in China and a handful of other countries. On March 1, the House Foreign Affairs Committee advanced the DATA Act in a party-line vote, only five days after Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX) introduced it. It could similarly facilitate a nationwide TikTok ban.