Senator Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, has expressed his opposition to a proposed ban on TikTok, which puts him at odds with other members of his party who support the measure to prohibit the use of the controversial social media platform.
Lawmakers expressed concerns about national security regarding TikTok, as reports have surfaced about the collection of user data and spying on journalists by its owner, the Chinese company ByteDance.
In an opinion piece published Wednesday in the Courier Journal of Louisville, Kentucky, Paul argued that banning TikTok would mimic censorship by the Chinese government. He cast the question of whether to ban the app as a free speech issue and said he would defend it even against members of his party. Paul has maintained that his opposition is not due to the ties of one of his top donor’s to the company.
Related: US House Panel To Vote Next Month On TikTok Ban
“I hope saner minds will reflect on which is more dangerous: videos of teenagers dancing or the precedent of the U.S. government banning speech,” Paul wrote. “For me, it’s an easy answer, I will defend the Bill of Rights against all comers, even, if need be, from members of my own party.”
He added: “If you don’t like TikTok or Facebook or YouTube, don’t use them. But don’t think any interpretation of the Constitution gives you the right to ban them.”
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., a vocal critic of TikTok, introduced legislation Wednesday to ban it in the U.S., which he tried to pass by unanimous consent. Paul objected.