Free Speech Project: Unpacking the WeChat/TikTok Bans

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Within the last month, two highly popular Chinese-owned social media apps—TikTok and WeChat—were put on the Trump administration’s chopping block. In twin August 6 executive orders, President Trump set in motion a 45-day process expected to lead to their ban from U.S.-accessed app stores—based on an assertion of an “unusual and extraordinary” national security threat. Over the weekend, the president indicated the TikTok threat has been averted by a deal that will transfer a 20% ownership stake in the company to Oracle and Walmart (yet leaving China-based owners in significant control), while a federal judge enjoined the WeChat order, based largely on First Amendment grounds.

Join Future Tense's Free Speech Project (our collaboration with the Tech, Law & Security program at American University's Washington College of Law) to consider whether the administration's move against these platforms was an undue intrusion on free speech or a legitimate action on national security grounds, as well as its broader implications for the U.S-China relationship.


David Gossett
Partner, Technology, Privacy & Security Group, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP
(litigator in the WeChat lawsuit)

Jennifer Daskal
Professor and Faculty Director, Tech, Law, & Security Program at American University Washington College of Law

James Mulvenon
Director of Intelligence Integration, SOS International


Samm Sacks
Cyber Policy Fellow, New America
Senior Fellow, Yale Law School's Paul Tsai China Center

Follow the conversation online using #TikTikBlock and by following @FutureTenseNow.

The Free Speech Project is in partnership with the Tech, Law & Security Program at American University Washington College of Law.

September 25, 2020
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Future Tense