Live Free or Die — but not online?

Both Granite State U.S. Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas are expected to vote in favor of a bill threatening to ban TikTok in the U.S. unless its Chinese owners sell the company. In fact, Kuster has already voted for it as a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where the bill was approved 50-0.

And Pappas is one of the bill’s original co-sponsors.

A vote could come as soon as Wednesday. Both Kuster and Pappas declined to respond to requests for comment.

“This is my message to TikTok: break up with the Chinese Communist Party or lose access to your American users,” said Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wisc.), chair of the House Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party. “America’s foremost adversary has no business controlling a dominant media platform in the United States. TikTok’s time in the United States is over unless it ends its relationship with CCP-controlled ByteDance.”

Gallagher is the lead sponsor of the bill, which would let the president identify and designate social media platforms under the adversarial nations. If a platform is deemed a national security threat, it would be banned from app stores and web hosting services unless it cuts all ties with the foreign adversarial country within six months.

For years, critics have warned TikTok is an unusually aggressive app when it comes to accessing user data. Because the company is based in China, all that information is theoretically accessible by the Chinese Communist Party. As tensions between Washington and Beijing have grown, lawmakers began discussing possible legislation to protect American consumers from the potential risks.

Not everyone agrees.

“This bill is extremely dangerous,” New Hampshire House Majority Leader Jason Osborne (R-Auburn) told NHJournal. “Citizens should read it for themselves to find out exactly what their representatives are passing.”

Joey Calcavecchia, aka “The Roaming Foodie,” also opposes the ban. Calcavecchia is a New Hampshire-based TikTok influencer who uses the app as part of his business model.

He told NHJournal, “I think banning TikTok would hurt a lot of businesses and people who rely on it as a source of income.”
“Look at how many businesses have been created utilizing TikTok. If they ban it, many of these businesses will cease to exist. I know that it would cut my livelihood in half. I’ve helped so many businesses using TikTok, so that would be a major hit for small businesses who would lose that reach.”

Another prominent TikTok user: President Joe Biden’s campaign.

It joined TikTok in February as part of its attempt to energize younger voters.

It was a different story last summer when Biden’s campaign officials suggested joining TikTok was off the table because of national security concerns. In 2022, Biden signed legislation banning the app on federal devices.

But now, the bidenhq TikTok account regularly includes clips from Biden speeches, images of likely Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, and short videos calling a sunglasses-wearing Biden ‘Dark Brandon.’ Both the president and Vice President Kamala Harris have delivered campaign-style videos to users promoting their reelection campaign.

One enthusiastic fan of the Biden campaign TikTok account: The Chinese Communist Party.

“As a social media app that has been heavily portrayed by the U.S. as a ‘national security threat,’ TikTok being used by Biden’s campaign highlights the unjust suppression of TikTok by American politicians and proves the hype nonsense,” an editorial in the party’s main newspaper said.

So, why would the Biden campaign join TikTok? Biden’s support among younger voters is sagging. Multiple polls show him trailing Trump among voters under 35.

“Campaigns are constantly trying to innovate their communications strategies and meet voters where they are,” said Gideon Cohn-Postar with Issue One. The bipartisan group promotes ethics reform and government transparency. “It’s possible that President Biden’s campaign team is hoping to connect with young voters via TikTok while his policy team at the White House is working to advance commonsense safeguards for social media platforms that protect our kids, our national security, and our democracy.”

The fate of the TikTok ban in the U.S. Senate is unclear. In New Hampshire, Gov. Chris Sununu has already banned it from state devices.

“New Hampshire is joining the growing list of states that have banned TikTok and other Chinese companies from state government devices and networks. This move will help preserve the safety, security, and privacy of the citizens of New Hampshire,” Sununu said at the time.