RESTRICT Act Raises Questions By Senators

RESTRICT Act Raises Questions By Senators

( – Most people in the U.S. know of TikTok, even if they don’t use it themselves; the quirky short-form video-sharing platform peering up from the phones of young adults and teenagers in every corner of popular culture. On its face, this seems pretty innocuous, except for one issue on lawmakers’ minds — it’s controlled by a Chinese company with ties to the Chinese Communist Party.

President Biden called on the company’s owners in April 2023 to divest their stake in TikTok, or it could be banned nationwide.

Former President Donald Trump attempted to ban the popular social media app in the U.S. during his presidency but couldn’t overcome the obstacles to accomplish the task. The issue has continued simmering, given the understandable security concerns the controversial app raises in Washington. So legislation has been drafted to address the issue for all apps and software, including, perhaps especially, TikTok.

The RESTRICT Act would grant the Commerce Department power to impose restrictions on technologies that could pose a risk to national security, up to and including banning any offending technology. The legislation would primarily be applied to software and apps from foreign nations hostile to the U.S. Senators John Thune (R. SD) and Mark Warner (D. VA) have co-sponsored the Act.

Senator Rand Paul (R. KY) has a very different take on the proposed legislation, which already has the support of more than 20 senators in Congress. He suggests that the RESTRICT Act could endanger free speech and broaden surveillance powers for the federal government.

A growing bipartisan cohort is standing behind Sen. Paul’s objection to the legislation citing broad sections of the act that could increase domestic surveillance of American citizens. Sen. Paul said that the legislation, in its current overly broad form, opens too many pathways for abuse and provides unchecked authority to stop free speech and private transactions.

“In other words, to rid social media of any disagreeable voices, the RESTRICT Act allows the Executive Branch to dissolve the First Amendment so long as it utters the magic words of ‘national security,’” Paul added.

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