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Authoritarian Impulse

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Kerby Andersonnever miss viewpoints

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would ban TikTok in this country unless the company was sold to Americans. Chinese national security laws require Chinese-owned companies to assist the government in intelligence-gathering.

But Lathan Watts reminds us that our own government has also been engaging in censorship and surveillance of US citizens. That is why he wonders if putting TikTok under American ownership would merely be an example of “jumping out of the wok and into the fire.”

He cites two recent Supreme Court cases that illustrate his concerns. The first is Murthy v. Missouri. The Biden administration is accused of a coordinated campaign to force social media companies to censor what the government deemed as “misinformation.” During the oral arguments, one Supreme Court justice announced to the attorneys that her biggest concern “is that your view has the First Amendment hamstringing the government.” But isn’t that why the First Amendment was written in the first place?

The other case is NRA v. Vullo that involved the state of New York using its power to force banks and insurance companies to deny services to the National Rifle Association. Perhaps you don’t have any problem with that action. Would you feel differently if another state encouraged financial institutions to deny services to the ACLU or Greenpeace?

One week prior to the Supreme Court hearings, a US House subcommittee documented how the Treasury Department colluded with America’s largest banks to monitor customer financial transactions. The suggested criteria include transactions with stores like Cabela’s and the purchase of “religious texts.”

All of this illustrates the authoritarian impulses we see today in America. That is why Lathan and I wonder if transferring TikTok ownership to Americans would merely be jumping from the wok into the fire. viewpoints new web version

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