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Free Expression, Government Surveillance

Coalition Urges Congress to Halt Efforts on TikTok Ban, Pass Privacy Legislation

A Ban on TikTok Is Not the Answer

The Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) has joined several other free speech and privacy organizations in calling for Congress to refrain from banning TikTok and to instead enact comprehensive privacy legislation because it would address many of the concerns that have motivated some to propose banning TikTok. TikTok claims that 150 million people in the U.S. use its app, and according to a Pew Research Center survey report in August 2022, two-thirds of U.S. teens said they were on TikTok.

The letter – which PEN America spearheaded and is joined by Access Now, ACLU, Authors Guild, Free Press Action, the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, the National Coalition Against Censorship & others – explains that a ban on TikTok would infringe on Americans’ First Amendment rights and set a precedent that authoritarian regimes around the world would cite in order to ban TikTok and other communications tools in efforts to stifle dissent and debate.

Other actions by Congress, more closely tailored to the national security concerns that some government officials have articulated, should be pursued instead. For example, even if Congress bans TikTok, the government of China would still be able to access data about Americans by purchasing it from data brokers without meaningful restraint. Enacting the American Data Privacy and Protection Act would impose such restraints.

TikTok’s CEO, Shou Zi Chew is scheduled to testify at the House Energy and Commerce Committee on March 23.

Read the full letter + list of signatories here.