In an effort to address mounting concerns over the popular TikTok app, which has ties to the Chinese Communist Party, Sen. Dan Sullivan has signed on as a co-sponsor of the RESTRICT Act, aimed at targeting tech industries from China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, Cuba and Venezuela.
In a press conference last month, Sullivan said the U.S. must bring “all instruments of American power and American policy to address the Chinese Communist Party challenge.”
Leading conservatives, however, are now warning that the bill, which enjoys bipartisan support – including from the Biden Administration – represents a massive power grab by the federal government under the guise of addressing national security concerns.
Introduced by U.S. Senators Mark Warner and John Thune, the RESTRICT Act could “increase surveillance of Americans, restrict free speech, punish citizens with jail time, fines, and confiscation of private property, and more,” warns Kerby Anderson, host of Point of View Radio.
In a recent warning to his followers, Anderson noted that the bill does the following, all in the name of combating TikTok:
— The bill prohibits “transactions” with technology owned by foreign adversaries, currently listed as China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia, and Venezuela.
— The bill allows the government to add foreign adversaries to that list without informing Congress.
— The bill allows the government to ban technologies that it considers a national security risk, including apps we already have on our phones and multiple social media platforms.
— Criminal violations of the rules proposed in the bill are punishable by up to $1 million in fines or 20 years in prison—as well as confiscation of your property and online information.
— Government investigations of “transactions” deemed problematic are not subject to FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests, eliminating transparency or accountability.
— The language of the bill is vague in many areas, leaving plenty of room for the government to go after nations, domestic groups, and individuals that it doesn’t like.
Conservative TV personality Tucker Carlson issued a similar warning.
While being critical of TikTok, and the “filth” which it disseminates to American youth, Carlson said the RESTRICT Act isn’t really about banning TikTok, or curtailing Chinese influence over U.S. citizens.
“Instead, this bill would give enormous and terrifying new powers to the federal government to punish American citizens and regulate how they communicate with one another,” Carlson warns. “For example, the bill would regulate ‘certain transactions between persons in the United States and foreign adversaries.’ Now, what’s a foreign adversary and who gets to decide?”
He adds that “transactions with foreign adversaries would include ‘any acquisition, importation, transfer, installation, dealing in or use of any information and communications technology, product or service, including ongoing activities such as mandated services, data transmission, software updates, repairs, or the provision of data hosting services.’”
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The proposed legislation would allow the Biden Administration to determine whether Americans were acting in the “interest of a foreign adversary,” Carlson notes.
“Again, that’s another term that the executive branch, the secretary of commerce, gets to define without the interference of Congress,” he cautions. “So, if the Biden administration decides that you’re doing this, then the secretary of commerce can then enforce ‘any mitigation measure to address any risk arising from any covered transaction with any person or with respect to any property subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.’”
While Carlson is no fan of TikTok, which he calls a “creepy low IQ Chinese plot designed to make your kids trans,” he is skeptical that the Biden Administration is actually interested in opposing Chinese interference in U.S. policy, culture or elections.
“Keep in mind, these are exactly the same people who drained our Strategic Petroleum Reserve and in fact promote China at every turn,” Carlson said. “Now, they’re telling you they’re against China. They’re not. This is not an effort to push back against China. It’s part of a strategy to make America much more like China, with the government in charge of what you read and see and with terrifying punitive powers at their fingertips.”
Kerby Anderson has made it easy to contact your senators about the RESTRICT Act, providing a suggested message, which can be personalized and sent to elected officials. Here’s the link.