The RESTRICT Act: What You Need To Know

Lucia Hogan, Student Writer

On March 7, 2023, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia (D) introduced the Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology, or RESTRICT, Act. It is also informally known as the TikTok Ban and Patriot Act 2.0. It is being touted as the most restrictive surveillance act since the Patriot Act.

The bill is stated to give power to the Secretary of Commerce the ability to restrict and prohibit transactions, specifically in the realm of information and communications technology, from occurring between American people and others that are deemed adversarial/are from an adversarial country by the United States government. It is not just apps like TikTok but anything and everything that relates to information which also includes games and shopping.

Listed below will be some of the biggest take aways from the bill, as well as links to the bill itself and website that will give the phone number and email for the representatives of your area.

  • The official scope of what is deemed “adversarial” includes the governmental entities, entities that are owned/partially owned by the government, and companies that are headquartered in adversarial countries. 
  • The adversarial countries that are listed:
    1. The People’s Republic of China, including its claimed territories 
    2. The Islamic Republic of Iran
    3. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea)
    4. The Republic of Cuba
    5. The Russian Federation
    6. The Bolivarian Republic Venezuela under the regime of Nicolás Maduro Moros
      • More Countries can be added to the list should the need arises
  • The people that will have power for this bill include, but is not limited to, the Secretaries of Commerce, State, Treasury, Defense and Homeland Security, the Attorney General, and several committees that will take awhile to list.
  • Any and all information gathering that is done will be subject to government surveillance, including webcams, monitoring devices, home networking devices and modems.
  • If it is discovered that a person is using a VPN to access content from the previously mentioned countries, that person is looking at a possible $1,000,000 fine and 20 years in federal prison. That is the more severe one of the punishments.

This is not all of what is listed in the bill because the bill itself is long and pretty vague on everything. There is a lot of information in the bill but it could apply to anything. A great example being buying a game or a product from a company and ending up with a fine and/or in prison because that company just so happens to be from Hong Kong. It is an overreach of power that even republicans like Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky are saying that if the bill were to pass, that the States would be no better than China.

This Bill will affect more than just watching cat videos and people doing dumb tricks on TikTok. It will affect small businesses that use the app to promote their products. It will affect how people communicate and stay inform. And as mention at the beginning, it will affect more than TikTok, it will be bad for anyone using or buying products from the foreign entities listed above. To large corporations, like Tencent and Alibaba, to small businesses state-side using TikTok to advertise their wears.

Here is the link to the bill on the Congress’s website. Please go over it to gain the full effect of how far reaching this Bill would be.

Also here is the Who Is My Representative website to help protest the bill. It will include the email and the phone number. The email may already be full, so it might be easier to call the office. Keep the conversation civil and simple. Say that you will vote against them in the primaries or along similar lines.