Fight for the Future and a coalition of civil rights and advocacy organizations concerned with the preservation of free expression in the United States have come together in opposition of the proposed ban on TikTok, as the CEO of Tiktok, Shou Chew, testifies before Congress today. These organizations join a public outcry from creators on Tiktok, who are taking to the platform to express frustration at Congressional members pushing multiple legislative items that would enable a ban on TikTok, hurting the 150 million users in the US that use the app for news, small business, community organizing, and free expression.
DontBanTiktok, a campaign launched by Fight for the Future in February, garnered support from creators who would lose revenue streams and platforms they have built over the course of years. Since then, outrage has grown in response to the RESTRICT Act introduced in March and President Biden confirming he would sign the legislation, if it landed on his desk.
The DontBanTikTok.com site features a collection of videos from TikTok creators who oppose a ban, detailing how the ban would affect their careers, livelihoods, future elections, and the state of free expression in the United States. Creators across the platform are calling their followers to pressure their Congressional leaders to oppose the ban, stressing the importance of the platform to young people in particular.
“The Senate is attempting to use the present cultural atmosphere of fear around TikTok to justify a far broader and more troubling attack on American civil liberties and constitutional protections. The Online Content Creator Association (OCCA), a labor representation group for American sole proprietorships and small businesses based in social media, has reason to raise alarm on behalf of the tens of thousands of potentially affected American businesses. But the chilling effect the RESTRICT act would have on communications throughout the country—which positions every possible interaction with a foreign entity as potentially criminal at any time—would do irrecoverable damage to Americans’ ability to exercise our right to freedom of speech. This is swatting flies with an atom bomb,” Cecilia Gray, OCCA special project manager, said.
Separately, today a coalition of 16 advocacy groups, including Fight for the Future, the ACLU, PEN America, and the Authors Guild released a joint letter detailing how a ban on TikTok, orchestrated by Congress and approved by President Biden, would change the government’s position on digital freedom and authoritarian measures against free communication.
“In addition to the implications of a ban on domestic free expression, a legislative ban on TikTok in the U.S. would set an alarming global precedent, lending legitimacy to authoritarian regimes in shutting down and excluding services they disfavor,” the letter said. “If the U.S. were to now put its statutory imprimatur on wholesale banning as a means of redressing its security concerns about digital platforms, other governments will follow suit, insisting that their own security concerns are equally pressing. A ban on TikTok would sorely undermine U.S. credibility as a defender of digital freedom, and invite copycat measures that could lead to severe constriction of expression worldwide.”
“Let’s just call it what it is: banning TikTok is stupid and pointless. This is political showboating at its worst. Politicians in DC are so eager to show that they are ‘tough on China’ that they’re proposing an authoritarian Internet censorship policy that looks a lot like something the Chinese government would do. Let’s also be perfectly clear that TikTok’s abusive data harvesting practices and manipulative design choices are a real problem. But these practices are alarmingly commonplace across the tech industry. The best way to address the threat of TikTok and other companies like it is to stop with the handwringing, xenophobia, and moral panic and pass a goddamn data privacy law,” Evan Greer, (she/her), director of Fight for the Future, said.