Democratic legislation meant to ban TikTok is a Trojan horse for a draconian crackdown on Americans, Breitbart reported. While the Chinese social media platform is problematic, the Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology Act could be much worse.
Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and John Thune (R-SD) co-sponsored the RESTRICT Act that would ban TikTok. However, it also broadly grants the power to decide that any nation is a "foreign adversary" that Americans can't do business with online.
Even a tangential relationship would be enough to make services or products off-limits to Americans and subject to severe penalties. The Secretary of Commerce would have the discretion to impose them for something as slight as using a VPN to access TikTok or another banned platform.
Moreover, the RESTRICT Act casts a wide net on prohibited interactions. It stipulates that "any acquisition, importation, transfer, installation, dealing in, or use of any information and communications technology product or service, including ongoing activities such as managed services, data transmission, software updates, repairs, or the provision of data hosting services, or a class of such transactions" and "any other transaction, the structure of which is designed or intended to evade or circumvent the application of this Act" are violations.
Penalties for these violations include fines from $250,000 to $1 million and up to 20 years behind bars. More troublingly, the federal government would have the right to seize any electronic device it sees fit under the law.
It's frightening that personal garden-variety devices like computers and phones could be taken. However, people who violate the law can also have "e-commerce technology and services, including any electronic techniques for accomplishing business transactions" confiscated, which is understood to mean cryptocurrency.
Even "quantum computing, post-quantum cryptography," "biotechnology," and "advanced robotics" are subject to seizure under the law. After the government gets its mitts on all of that, Americans would be barred from the usual recourse Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests on how the law was applied.
Lawmakers rightly excoriated this legislation, likening it to China's authoritarian bent. "The RESTRICT Act is using TikTok as a smokescreen for the largest expansion of executive power since IEEPA," Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee Patrick McHenry tweeted.
"The U.S. can’t beat China by becoming more like the Chinese Communist Party," he added. Fox News host Tucker Carlson ripped into the legislation for "introducing flat-out totalitarianism into our system."
Carlson spoke out against it "Tucker Carlson Tonight" Monday. "This bill isn't really about banning TikTok," he said in his lengthy analysis.
"It's never about what they say it is," Carlson added. "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."
The host went on to outline all the worst provisions and the powers given to the federal government within it. "Under this bill, if you engage in any of that with a so-called foreign adversary as determined by, in this case, the Biden administration, that would allow the Secretary of Commerce, Gina Raimando, and the director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines, to decide whether you're acting in the 'interest of a foreign adversary,'" Carlson explained.
While Carlson acknowledged that the platform is terrible, he believes legislation like this is much more nefarious. It may become a case "where the solution has nothing to do with the problem and, in fact, degrades our free country and makes it something unrecognizable."
TikTok is poison for our children and likely a tool of the Chinese government to infiltrate the U.S. However, the bill meant to stop all of this is remarkably worse for America and needs to be thrown out completely.