A bill called the “RESTRICT Act” is being debated by Republicans and Democrats in Congress to allegedly ban TikTok, but the reality is this legislation is designed to pick up where the PATRIOT Act left off when it comes to destroying the First Amendment’s protection of our God-given right to free speech and the Fourth Amendment’s protection of privacy.
In fact, the RESTRICT Act could go down as one of the most Orwellian pieces of legislation ever introduced in American history. It would give the government the ability to target anyone they deem as a national security risk – regular people like you and me – and allow government to remotely access every piece of electronics we own, from our computers and cell phones to the camera on the front porch.
And if they find you in violation, they can seize your property, fine you one million dollars, and imprison you for 20 years (via The Free Thought Project):
In an era where the world has become more Orwellian than Orwell himself could have ever imagined; it should come as no surprise that the US government is once again attempting to expand its stranglehold on individual liberty. Enter Senate Bill 686, also known as the Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology Act (RESTRICT Act). Far from being the limited TikTok ban it purports to be, the RESTRICT Act represents an unprecedented expansion of government power and surveillance, reaching into nearly every aspect of our digital lives.
The RESTRICT Act would seemingly grant the US government total control over all devices connected to the internet, including cars, Ring cameras, refrigerators, Alexa devices, and your phone. It goes beyond the pale, with the end goal being nothing short of a complete invasion of your privacy.
Under the guise of national security, the RESTRICT Act targets not only TikTok but all hardware, software, and mobile apps used by more than one million people. This means that anything from your Google Home device to your smartphone could be subject to government monitoring and control.
Should you dare to defy the RESTRICT Act, you’ll face devastating consequences. Violators can be slapped with a 20-year prison sentence, civil forfeiture, and denied freedom of information requests. All this, mind you, for simply trying to maintain some semblance of privacy in your own home.
The insidious nature of the RESTRICT Act doesn’t stop there. As reported by @underthedesknews, the bill’s proponents are also seeking to undermine Section 230 and limit free speech. The implications are clear: this legislation is not about protecting Americans but rather about stripping away our rights and liberties. (Emphasis mine)
The RESTRICT Act exempts relevant agency actions from review — meaning government can write the rules and hold them against you before you could have even heard of them — and everything they do is also exempt from the Freedom of Information Act, assuring the ability to do it all in secret.
Another liberty-killing aspect of the RESTRICT Act is how it will criminalize the use of VPNs (via Reason.com):
Would the RESTRICT Act—a.k.a. the TikTok ban bill—criminalize the use of VPNs? That’s the rumor floating around about the legislation, which was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Mark Warner (D–Va.) earlier this month. Warner’s office has said his bill wouldn’t do this… but its broad language leaves room for doubt. And the act is still insanely far-reaching and could have a huge range of deleterious effects, even if it doesn’t criminalize people using a VPN to access TikTok.
VPN stands for virtual private network, and there are several different kinds, but their general aim is the same: keeping your digital activities and location private. Using a VPN with your computer, phone, or another internet-enabled device can do things like mask your I.P. address and encrypt your internet connection.
Warner’s “Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology Act,” or the RESTRICT Act, doesn’t specifically mention TikTok or ByteDance. Rather, it would grant the U.S. secretary of commerce the broad power to “identify, deter, disrupt, prevent, prohibit, investigate, or otherwise mitigate … any risk arising from any covered transaction by any person, or with respect to any property” that the secretary determines to pose “an undue or unacceptable risk” in several different areas.
It’s a bit gobbledygooked, but this could be read to imply that “any person” using a VPN to access an app controlled by a “foreign adversary” or its alleged minions is subject to the secretary’s ire. Hence anyone using a VPN to access TikTok would be in trouble—specifically, subject to up to $1 million in fines, 20 years in prison, or both. (Emphasis mine)
Members of both parties are going out of their way to assure us that the RESTRICT Act won’t be a threat to our rights to privacy and free speech, but recent history is replete with evidence that says otherwise:
The Republican/Democrat duopoly abused the unconstitutional PATRIOT Act to justify warrantless spying on us, and it was the Trump administration that expanded spying power and tried to make it permanent.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been secretly dismantling free speech using tactics that bear a frightening resemblance to the Ministry of Truth we read about in George Orwell’s 1984 in an expansive effort by the agency to manipulate tech platforms.
Joe Biden appeared on the global stage at the G20 summit in November 2020 to advance his war on free speech by endorsing the group’s declaration calling for the censorship of “disinformation.”
Last week, we learned that the federal government has been funneling millions of dollars in taxpayer money to universities, private companies, and Big Tech to form a partnership expanding a post-9/11 Artificial Intelligence (AI) censorship program once used to track ISIS and use it to spy on American citizens in order to track and silence “misinformation.”
The list of Big Government cheerleaders supporting this liberty-killing bill is, of course, bipartisan. Among the list of supporters are Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, Sen. John Thune, (R-ND), National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, along with nine Democrat co-sponsors.
By the way, Nationalist Conservative Sen. Josh Hawley (MO) has introduced a “watered-down” version of the RESTRICT Act. Needless to say, it’s just as destructive of liberty as the Warner bill. Why else would he try to force a “unanimous consent” vote when no one was looking?
The RESTRICT Act is a blatant assault on free speech and privacy rights, and it will usher in an era of state control over our digital lives that the creators of the PATRIOT Act could have only dreamed of.
David Leach is the owner of the Strident Conservative. He holds people of every political stripe accountable for their failure to uphold conservative values, and he promotes those values instead of political parties.
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