‘The Broad, Vague RESTRICT Act Is a Dangerous Substitute For Comprehensive Data Privacy Legislation’
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The recently introduced RESTRICT Act, otherwise known as the “TikTok ban,” is a dangerous substitute for comprehensive data privacy legislation, writes the Electronic Frontier Foundation in a blog post. From the post:
As we wrote in our initial review of the bill, the RESTRICT Act would authorize the executive branch to block ‘transactions’ and ‘holdings’ of ‘foreign adversaries’ that involve ‘information and communication technology’ and create ‘undue or unacceptable risk’ to national security and more. We’ve explained our opposition to the RESTRICT Act and urged everyone who agrees to take action against it. But we’ve also been asked to address some of the concerns raised by others. We do that here in this post. At its core, RESTRICT would exempt certain information services from the federal statute, known as the Berman Amendments, which protects the free flow of information in and out of the United States and supports the fundamental freedom of expression and human rights concerns. RESTRICT would give more power to the executive branch and remove many of the commonsense restrictions that exist under the Foreign Intelligence Services Act (FISA) and the aforementioned Berman Amendments. But S. 686 also would do a lot more.
EFF opposes the bill, and encourages you to reach out to your representatives to ask them not to pass it. Our reasons for opposition are primarily that this bill is being used as a cudgel to protect data from foreign adversaries, but under our current data privacy laws, there are many domestic adversaries engaged in manipulative and invasive data collection as well. Separately, handing relatively unchecked power over to the executive branch to make determinations about what sort of information technologies and technology services are allowed to enter the U.S. is dangerous. If Congress is concerned about foreign powers collecting our data, it should focus on comprehensive consumer data privacy legislation that will have a real impact, and protect our data no matter what platform it’s on — TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, or anywhere else that profits from our private information. That’s why EFF supports such consumer data privacy legislation. Foreign adversaries won’t be able to get our data from social media companies if the social media companies aren’t allowed to collect, retain, and sell it in the first place.
EFF says it’s not clear if the RESTRICT Act will even result in a “ban” on TikTok. It does, however, have potential to punish people for using a VPN to access TikTok if it is restricted. In conclusion, the group says the bill is similar to a surveillance bill and is “far too broad in the power it gives to investigate potential user data.”