Should Congress prohibit universities from receiving federal funds unless they ban TikTok?

Awaiting Vote
Bill Summary

H.R. 231 would prohibit Institutes of Higher Education (IHEs) from receiving federal funding unless they ban the use of TikTok. If H.R. 231 is passed, IHEs would have 90 days to take steps to prohibit the use of TikTok on all electronic devices owned and operated by the institution and require the removal of TikTok from these devices. The bill has exemptions for research that is approved or conducted by a faculty member of an IHE and pertains to cybersecurity, telecommunications, national security, or law enforcement. Sponsor: Rep. Brian Babin (Republican, Texas, District 36)
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Opponents say

•      "H.R. 7521[nationwide TikTok ban bill] is censorship — plain and simple. In a purported attempt to protect the data of U.S. residents from Chinese government acquisition, this legislation would forbid app stores and internet hosting services from offering TikTok so long as the company remains under foreign ownership. Passing this legislation would trample on the constitutional right to freedom of speech of millions of people in the United States. TikTok is home to massive amounts of protected speech and association: it enables its users to discuss their opinions, share their hobbies, make art, and access news from down the street and around the world. Jeopardizing access to the platform jeopardizes access to free expression…Banning or requiring divestiture of TikTok would also set an alarming global precedent for excessive government control over social media platforms. The United States has rightfully condemned other countries when they have banned specific social media platforms, criticizing these efforts as infringing on the rights of their citizens. 4 If the United States now bans a foreign-owned platform, that will invite copycat measures by other countries, banning American-owned speech intermediaries and companies from operating in their borders, with significant consequences for free expression globally." Source: American Civil Liberties Union 

•    "Legislation like this would not be effective in protecting Americans’ data and privacy. Every Big Tech company, both foreign and domestic, mines and sells our data for their own profits. We need to focus on cracking down on surveillance capitalism and predatory algorithms that harm our kids. I, along with millions of others, especially young people, use TikTok as a place to interact with my community in a positive, uplifting way. We need to protect our young people’s right to free expression, and banning TikTok only silences their valuable voices. This is not about defending TikTok as a company, and we need strong regulation that applies to every social media platform in order to protect our data and our children." Source: Rep. Jamaal Bowman (Democrat, New York, District 16)

•    "We’re disappointed that so many states are jumping on the political bandwagon to enact policies that will do nothing to advance cybersecurity in their states and are based on unfounded falsehoods about TikTok...We’re especially sorry to see the unintended consequences of these rushed policies beginning to impact universities’ ability to share campus-wide information, recruit students, and build communities around athletic teams, student groups, campus publications, and more." Source: Brook Oberwetter (Head of Global Security, TikTok)

Proponents say

•      "The clear and simple truth is that TikTok is toxic. TikTok has shown time and time again that they are a risk to both the national security of the United States, and to the minds of our children. It’s digital fentanyl for our kids, purveying anti-American and anti-democratic propaganda. This legislation is an essential step in preventing Americans from being spied on by the CCP and protecting our online security and privacy. It’s important to note: this legislation is not a TikTok ban, but instead would force the divestment of TikTok by a CCP controlled tech company. This makes clear that Congress will never allow our adversaries to poison our young minds and digitally invade the United States." Source: Rep. John James (Republican, Michigan, District 10)

•      "Today’s extensive disinformation campaign perpetrated by TikTok at the expense of its users perfectly represents the troubling scale of this app’s influence. Despite TikTok’s disingenuous actions, H.R. 7521 does not ban TikTok. Instead, this bill incentivizes TikTok U.S. to sever its concerning relationship with ByteDance and the Chinese Communist Party, not only cutting off their ability to surveil Americans and sell their data but enabling TikTok U.S. to become an American company guided by American principles and Western democratic values. TikTok should be available to all Americans, free from the Chinese Communist Party’s influence, to protect every U.S. consumer, creator, and small business. Congress has a responsibility to address the dangers posed by the CCP, and we must ensure the safety and security of our nation and its citizens." Source: Rep. Yvette Clarke (Democrat, New York, District 9) 

•      "Unlike with older forms of telecommunications technology, the operators of apps like TikTok also collect and use enormous amounts of personal data from their users, as well as have the power to influence their algorithms. That is why I voted ‘yes’ on this legislation, which would not ban TikTok but rather require ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, to sell it to an American company or another headquartered in a non-adversarial country. As long as that process occurs, Americans can continue to use the application with no interruption in service… I acknowledge and share some of the concerns raised by my colleagues about the impact of this bill on free expression and the singling out of a specific company. But after consideration, I chose to vote ‘yes’ because I believe this bill will preserve Americans’ ability to use the service while protecting our data and national security." Source: Rep. Judy Chu (Democrat, California, District 28)