Lawmaker Who Led TikTok Ban Bill Joins Private Surveillance Firm

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Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher, who led the charge on a bill that could effectively ban TikTok within the country — on the basis that China can “surveil its users” — plans to take up a post with the American surveillance company and defense contractor Palantir, Forbes reported.

Earlier on Friday, the Wisconsin congressman announced that he would be resigning from Congress next month and that his last day will be April 19. His departure further shrinks Republicans’ slim majority and leave their party with a 217-213 majority in the House. Forbes wrote that Gallagher’s title at the company is still unknown.

Gallagher, who currently chairs the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, was the lead sponsor on the bill that would force TikTok‘s Chinese parent company ByteDance to sell the popular social media platform within six months or face a potential ban from app stores and web-hosting services.

On March 13, the House voted to pass the bill, sending it to the Democratic-led Senate where it faces an uncertain future.

After the vote, Palantir executive Jacob Helberg, who also serves on the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, called on his social media followers to fund opponents to lawmakers who voted no on the bill to ban TikTok. Gallagher worked with Helberg in recent months as part of an effort to build bipartisan, bicoastal support of the bill. Helberg took a job at Palantir as a senior policy advisor to CEO Alex Karp back in August.

Gallagher justified the legislation in a press conference by calling TikTok “a threat to U.S. national security.”

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“Under ByteDance’s ownership structure,” he said, “the Chinese government has the ability to manipulate TikTok’s algorithm, surveil its users, and conduct influence operations that quietly populate Americans’ ‘For You’ pages.”

Gallagher has insisted that the bill was not about censorship. “The text explicitly prohibits that. And it cannot, cannot be used to censor speech. It takes no position at all on the content of speech,” Gallagher said, according to WPR. “Only foreign adversary control, foreign adversary control of what is becoming the dominant news platform for Americans under 30.” 



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