Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul ridiculed fellow Republican Josh Hawley's attempt Wednesday to force a vote on legislation effectively banning the use of the TikTok social media platform, decrying it as unconstitutional from a First Amendment perspective.
Speaking on Newsmax's "Eric Bolling The Balance" hours after Paul blocked Hawley's measure with an objection, Paul also suggested it was hypocritical to ban TikTok on concerns that the company's owner, Chinese technology firm ByteDance, shared data with the Chinese government.
"So every social media company does this," Paul said, referring to the collection of data. "What's alarming is that in our country, the ones that are owned by U.S. entities are sharing that with the U.S. government."
Paul's comment was in reference to revelations disclosed in what has become known as the "Twitter Files," reports based on the internal communications of Twitter that unveiled collaboration between company and government officials to censor information and individuals the government sought to silence or diminish.
"So I have a great deal of problem with all these companies sharing data, and I don't like it," Paul added. "But the First Amendment trumps my dislike for their business practice. If you don't like it, don't use them.
"And so I think that there's a lot of privacy violations that may or may not be in the purview of government, but they are in the purview of the consumer. So quit using them. And people don't like it. If you don't like TikTok, don't use it. But I don't think you can tell 150 million Americans who are doing it, 'You're no longer allowed to do it. You are no longer to allow to have your freedom of speech on this website or this social media app.'
"I think that will be declared unconstitutional."
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