Leonard M. Niehoff, a professor from practice at the University of Michigan Law School who specializes in the First Amendment, spoke with Salon by email about Pompeo’s remarks. After noting that they were not specific enough for him to ascertain what if anything President Donald Trump is considering doing to TikTok, Niehoff argued that “to the extent that he’s suggesting a complete ban on a social media platform that is used by United States citizens to communicate with hundreds of millions of people worldwide, the proposal raises grave concerns under the First Amendment.” He acknowledged that people have accused TikTok of being a form of spyware and added “it’s difficult to assess the constitutionality of the measures without knowing exactly what the government wants to do and why it wants to do it.”
The State Department has yet to explain or defend its highly unusual decision to remove an NPR reporter from an upcoming trip by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a time when Pompeo is fuming about the public radio network.
NPR’s diplomatic correspondent Michele Kelemen was supposed to be the radio representative on the plane that will travel with Pompeo to the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan in the coming days. He departs for the UK on Wednesday.
On Tuesday afternoon NPR CEO John Lansing said the State Department “has been unresponsive” to its inquiries.