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The Restrict Act is more than just a TikTok ban, its legislative blackmail
The Whitehouse-supported bill would give the Secretary of Commerce unprecedented authority to control which apps you can and cannot use.
Politicians do it all the time— they threaten companies with higher taxes and stronger regulations to achieve their political goals. Ron DeSantis is doing it with Disney, and Republicans did it with Facebook. The Restrict Act streamlines this process by implementing a “naughty list” and granting an unelected official control over deciding which tech companies are and are not associated with a foreign adversary.
Information Communication Technology (ICTs), as defined in the Restrict Act, covers every technology company, both foreign and domestic. Any ICT that makes it onto the list associated with a foreign adversary can expect incredible government prodding and regulation.
The President of the United States can use this looming threat to wield power over ICTs for political gain: Too much socialist content on your servers? Is your app allowing activists to organize protests in your chats? Perhaps it’s time to investigate your company’s funding.
Under the Restrict Act, the name of the game for foreign and domestic companies would be to not get on this list under any circumstances. And if that means censoring user content not sympathetic to the current administration, then so be it.
Perhaps the spirit of the law does not call for such an interpretation or use. But ask yourself whether we live in a country where the spirit of law stops bad actors from gaining power and stripping our rights away. Ask yourself how this law could be used under a DeSantis presidency.
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