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Congress Only Wants To ‘Ban’ TikTok So The Deep State Can Use It To Spy On Americans

Let’s not pretend this is about countering communist China or protecting Americans. It’s about using CCP tactics here at home.


Given all we know now about how U.S. intelligence agencies conspire with Big Tech firms and nongovernmental cutouts to spy on and manipulate U.S. citizens, together with what the Twitter Files revealed last year about how the FBI and DHS deputized social media companies to censor Americans and throttle free speech, you’d think lawmakers who ostensibly care about the First Amendment would balk at expanding the online censorship industry’s reach in the United States.

But you’d be wrong. Last week in Washington there was a sudden concentrated push among House Republicans and Democrats alike to pass a so-called “TikTok ban.” The bill, which sailed out of committee and was passed with bipartisan support in the House, now goes to the Senate, where it will likely meet the same bipartisan approval.

It’s not really a ban, though. The bill would give TikTok, which is owned by its Chinese Communist Party-controlled parent company, ByteDance, the option to sell the app’s U.S. operations or be banned. Because the CCP uses TikTok to spy on U.S. users, the bill seems at first glance like a good idea. President Trump tried to ban the app in 2020 via executive order but was blocked by federal courts. 

But there’s something else going on here. Namely, the push to “ban” TikTok is a thinly veiled scheme to force ByteDance to sell to a U.S. company. The purpose of forcing a sale should be obvious. If a U.S. firm owns TikTok, the federal censorship industrial complex can use the platform as it has used virtually every other social media company: to spy on and manipulate American citizens.

With more than 170 million users in America, TikTok would be a powerful new tool at the federal government’s disposal heading into the 2024 presidential election. If you think that’s crazy, or some kind of conspiracy theory, recall that just weeks before the 2020 election, dozens of former high-ranking U.S. intelligence officials signed onto a letter denouncing the New York Post’s reporting on Hunter Biden’s laptop as a Russian disinformation campaign. That effort was coordinated and led by future Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who at the time was a senior official for the Biden campaign. 

The suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story, which was banned from Twitter, Facebook, and most other social media platforms almost as soon as it was reported, was only possible because of the leverage that federal intelligence agencies had over these social media companies.

Over the past year, we’ve learned more and more about the depth and breadth of collusion between Big Tech and the federal government, which views social media companies as proxies that enable it to censor and manipulate American citizens. Anything that cuts against the deep state’s preferred narrative is labeled as “misinformation” that must be suppressed, censored, or banned. Instead of doing this directly, the intelligence community dragoons social media companies into carrying out these tasks, and the effect is the quashing of free speech online.

Make no mistake, this is the goal of the movement to “ban” TikTok. How else to explain the effort to force a TikTok sale? If the goal was really to ban TikTok (because the CCP uses it to collect data on American citizens, or because it’s harmful to its users’ mental health, or both) then Congress would have simply passed a bill that banned the app from stores and web-hosting services in the United States. It could have been a straightforward, one-page bill.

Instead, the bipartisan bill now before the Senate allows for U.S. ownership with virtually no changes in how TikTok functions, as congressional supporters of the bill have freely admitted. If only TikTok is controlled by a U.S. firm, it can continue to operate as it has thus far—with an important difference. Instead of answering to the CCP, it will answer to CISA, or the CIA, or FBI—just as Twitter and Facebook and all the others have for years now.

Indeed, TikTok itself boasted earlier this year about how fastidious it has been in walling off U.S. users’ data from China, even as it has struggled to keep that data private. In January, the Wall Street Journal reported the company had spent $1.5 billion on an operation designed to convince U.S. lawmakers that user data was safe.

But that effort itself reveals how the campaign to keep data safe from China is really a backdoor to allow U.S. intel agencies access to user data. In the report, a TikTok spokeswoman said the app’s U.S. algorithm is stored with Oracle, an American company. “Over the past year, we took the unprecedented step of granting Oracle full access to our source code and algorithm,” she said.

But of course Oracle isn’t just a U.S. data storage and management company. It’s also one of four major defense contractors providing cloud-computing contracts to the U.S. government. It’s not a stretch, much less a conspiracy theory, to see how a U.S.-owned TikTok, whose entire source code and algorithm has been given to Oracle, could be used by the intel and defense bureaucracy to spy on American TikTok users.

Such details aren’t getting in the way of the bipartisan push in Congress to take control of the app. To make the TikTok “ban” seem like a patriotic move, we’re now seeing its proponents talk about how bad it is that we allow a Chinese-controlled social media firm to operate with no oversight. That’s why former Trump administration Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who last week announced he was putting together a group to purchase TikTok, said, “There’s no way that the Chinese would ever let a US company own something like this in China.”

It’s also why establishment Republicans like Rep. Dan Crenshaw denigrated opponents of the bill last week, saying a vote against the bill “is a vote for the Chinese Communist Party. The opponents of this bill aren’t defending free speech, they’re defending Chinese access to American data and American minds.”

Whenever anyone pushes back on these claims, the response is often, oh so you’d rather communist China be allowed to spy on us and manipulate U.S. news coverage? The answer to this should be obvious. If the choice is between the CCP spying on and manipulating us or our own government doing it, I’d much rather it be a foreign power.

When it comes to censorship and the muzzling of Americans, the greater enemy by far is the U.S. government. It’s not even close. That there’s even a question about which is the greater threat is a testament to how far we’ve come in our understanding of tyranny and how susceptible we are to it arising domestically, within our own government.

The truth is, our government has embarked on a tyrannical, republic-destroying project of censoring and spying on its citizens. It’s galling that the same people who want to expand the U.S. intelligence community’s power to do that are pretending to have patriotic motives for doing so.

Don’t fall for this lie. They don’t want to protect you from China. They want to do to you what the CCP does to its people: spy, manipulate, censor, and suppress free speech. It’s not more complicated than that.

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