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The "RESTRICT Act" S.686

Permalink 04/08/23 09:23, by OGRE / (Jeff), Categories: Welcome, News, Background, In real life, History, Politics, Elections

TikTok is said to be a danger to its users, and potentially national security, because it's used as a data mining tool. This isn't a new thing. Nearly every phone app is designed to gather information, that will be sold for profit. This is called Surveillance Capitalism. However, that information is normally used for commercial purposes.

This issue with TikTok is that its parent company ByteDance is owned by the Chinese government, CCP, Chinese Communist Party. Without getting into all the specifics, no company operates within China, without allowing the Chinese government complete access to all of their information and technology.

Trump took action on this in 2020.

"This data collection threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans' personal and proprietary information — potentially allowing China to track the locations of Federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage," the executive order reads.

TikTok has downplayed its ties to Beijing, saying data it captures on U.S. users is stored mostly in Virginia. Officials at TikTok also insist the company has never turned over any data to Chinese authorities, despite the country's broad national powers to request such data from private companies.

The idea that the information in stored "mostly" in Virginia, and hasn't been handed over to the CCP is absurd. This is like giving a home intruder a gun when they walk in, but it's OK because you left the safety on. Nobody in their right mind would allow a foreign government this kind of power, unless they are bought off by that same foreign government.

In his new executive order, President Biden said that the federal government should evaluate threats posed by China-based apps and software through "rigorous, evidence-based analysis", and should address "any unacceptable or undue risks consistent with overall national security, foreign policy, and economic objectives".

He acknowledged that apps can "access and capture vast swathes of information from users".

"This data collection threatens to provide foreign adversaries with access to that information," he said.

How is allowing a foreign government's surveillance apparatus access to millions of American users' data a good thing? Biden acknowledges that what Trump warned of is true, the CCP can mine data, and that the data might threaten national security, but now that's OK?

Fast forward to today 2023, and the opposite seems to be true. Now once again congress is looking to ban TikTok in the US. Why? Because of national security concerns. The possibility that the CCP could gather data, so on and so forth. This isn't the first time that TikTok has been banned.

The following countries have implemented full or partial TikTok bans, according to the Associated Press:

  • Afghanistan: Permanent total ban implemented in 2022
  • Australia: Banned on all government-issued mobile devices in April 2023
  • Belgium: Temporary ban on government-issued mobile devices in March 2023
  • Canada: Banned on all government-issued mobile devices
  • Denmark: The Defense Ministry banned the app from its employees work phones.
  • European Union: Banned on European Parliament, European Commission and EU Council staff devices
  • India: Permanent total ban implemented in January 2021
  • Latvia: Banned on official foreign ministry mobile devices
  • Netherlands: Banned several apps, including TikTok, on all government-issued mobile devices
  • New Zealand: Banned on government-issued mobile devices used by lawmakers and Parliament
  • Norway: Banned on Parliament’s work devices
  • Pakistan: TikTok has been banned at least four times since October 2020
  • Taiwan: Public sector ban implemented in December 2022
  • United Kingdom: Banned on mobile phones used to government ministers and civil servants in March 2023
  • United States: Deadline set to remove from TikTok from all federal government devices

Congress has proposed "Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology Act (RESTRICT Act), S.686.

S.686, the Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology Act (RESTRICT Act), contains language that could be used to shut down any website or app with more than 1 million users that challenges the “reported result of a Federal election” — threatening websites and apps that allow free speech on their platforms including Truth Social and Rumble, not just TikTok, the supposed reason for the legislation.

Specifically, Section 3(a)(1)(C) of the proposed legislation states, “The Secretary [of Commerce], in consultation with the relevant executive department and agency heads, is authorized to and shall take action to identify, deter, disrupt, prevent, prohibit, investigate, or otherwise mitigate, including by negotiating, entering into, or imposing, and enforcing any mitigation measure to address any risk arising from any covered transaction by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States that the Secretary determines… poses an undue or unacceptable risk of… interfering in, or altering the result or reported result of a Federal election, as determined in coordination with the Attorney General, the Director of National Intelligence, the Secretary of Treasury, and the Federal Election Commission…”

The key words there are “interfering in, or altering the…reported result of a Federal election…” How does one “interfere” or “alter” the “reported result” of an election? By saying somebody else won the election and that it was rigged or corrupt.

That’s exactly what anybody, including former President Donald Trump in 2020 or former 2016 Green Party nominee Jill Stein or Al Gore in 2000 did by challenging the “reported result” of the presidential elections of 2020, 2016 and 2000, respectively, whether through lawsuits, television and print media or more recently, via social media.

This legislation is a Trojan Horse and entirely too broad spectrum to cover what's being publicly asserted. There are a few parts in particular that I am most concerned about.

To authorize the Secretary of Commerce to review and prohibit certain transactions between persons in the United States and foreign adversaries, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

Consider the wording "review and prohibit certain transactions between persons in the United States and foreign adversaries, and for other purposes." What might constitute "certain transactions" between persons in the United States? What are "other purposes?" And, based on what criteria?

Let's continue.

(b) Considerations Relating To Undue And Unacceptable Risks.—In determining whether a covered transaction poses an undue or unacceptable risk under section 3(a) or 4(a), the Secretary—

(1) shall, as the Secretary determines appropriate and in consultation with appropriate agency heads, consider, where available—

(A) any removal or exclusion order issued by the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Secretary of Defense, or the Director of National Intelligence pursuant to recommendations of the Federal Acquisition Security Council pursuant to section 1323 of title 41, United States Code;

(B) any order or license revocation issued by the Federal Communications Commission with respect to a transacting party, or any consent decree imposed by the Federal Trade Commission with respect to a transacting party;

(C) any relevant provision of the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation and the Federal Acquisition Regulation, and the respective supplements to those regulations;

(D) any actual or potential threats to the execution of a national critical function identified by the Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency;

(E) the nature, degree, and likelihood of consequence to the public and private sectors of the United States that would occur if vulnerabilities of the information and communications technologies services supply chain were to be exploited; and

(F) any other source of information that the Secretary determines appropriate; and

(2) may consider, where available, any relevant threat assessment or report prepared by the Director of National Intelligence completed or conducted at the request of the Secretary.

This means that the Secretary of Commerce can basically label anything as a potential threat, because it specifically excludes any requirements. The legislation uses terms such as "certain activities" and "any other source of information." There are no hard and fast requirements that must be met before action is taken.

This is the Internet version of Obamacare. It's not a law determining legality, it's a framework to allow one (or a few) individuals vast control of all public information sharing within the US.

Ask yourself, how well did the US government perform as it relates to Twitter, and Facebook? Did the government block and censor information? Did the government attempt to control public opinion for the benefit of one political party, or itself?

We know the answers to these questions. If this legislation passes, free speech will be forever limited on large platforms. Not only that, it will be limited to that which benefits one ideology.

Get ready for the information landscape to become much harder to navigate.

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