Proposed TikTok Regulations Leave Conservative Wing Divided

The Chinese-owned social media platform TikTok has attracted bipartisan criticism in recent months for its parent company’s close ties to that country’s communist regime. Following a series of small-scale bans on its use in certain situations, Montana became the first state to issue a blanket prohibition last year.

Upon signing the measure into law, Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte said: “Today, Montana takes the most decisive action of any state to protect Montantans’ private data and sensitive personal information from being harvested by the Chinese Communist Party.”

Efforts to regulate or ban the platform nationwide have continued to gain steam, culminating in a bipartisan House bill that is slated to go before the entire chamber for a vote this week. President Joe Biden signaled that, if the measure advances through Congress, he will sign it into law.

As the bill is currently worded, it would require TikTok owner ByteDance to give up control of the app within 165 days of its passage. If the company refused to comply, a nationwide ban on TikTok would go into effect.

While the measure has attracted support from the right, not all prominent conservatives believe such an ambitious approach to the issue is warranted.

Reports indicate that Kellyanne Conway, a one-time top aide to former President Donald Trump, has been lobbying on behalf of allowing the app to continue operating within the U.S. Trump himself has recently backed off from his previously harsh assessment of the platform.

During a recent CNBC interview, the former president acknowledged that TikTok represents a national security threat.

“I do believe it, and we have to very much admit that we are protecting American people’s privacy and data rights,” he affirmed.

Nevertheless, he cited reservations about unilaterally banning the app that first surfaced when he was still in the White House.

“But as you know, I was at the point where I could have gotten it done if I wanted to,” Trump explained. “I should have said, you guys decide, you make that decision because there are a lot of people who talk that love it. There are a lot of young kids on TikTok who will go crazy without it. There are a lot of users.”

Furthermore, he noted that TikTok is not the only social media threat the U.S. currently faces and theorized that prohibiting access to that platform would only benefit those that remained.

“There’s a lot of good and there’s a lot of bad with TikTok,” Trump concluded. “But the thing I don’t like is that without TikTok, you can make Facebook bigger, and I consider Facebook to be an enemy of the people along with a lot of the media.”