TikTok, Personal Security, and the RESTRICT Act
Explaining what’s happening at a teenage level so we can all understand what’s being proposed
After hearings this week that were, frankly, embarrassing for those in Congress who don’t understand technology, I thought I’d dig into the RESTRICT Act and try to simplify it so I could really understand what these lawmakers are trying to do. I have attempted this without bias, but I work in cybersecurity and sometimes, the simple-minded approach our leaders push forward lacks context and real-world applications.
My goal was to write this in a way teenagers could read and understand how this law is being developed.
It appears, after looking into this, what this Act does is establish a vague set of guidelines for the Department of Commerce to try and unravel and turn into legal, actionable policy. I will take you through the top 10 things you should know, then a short list of the kind of power they are giving to the Secretary and Department of Commerce and a brief look at how the Act might impinge on our civil rights.
For perspective, I also have the risks of adopting this ban, how this Act will affect any software that might trigger the “developed outside the US” alarm, and finally five alternative approaches to coming at this problem that might serve us better, with more predictability and less of an “I know it when I see it” approach to enforcement.
I’m sure I may have missed something. Let me know. I hope this helps!
The Basics of the RESTRICT Act.
The US and its allies have supplied the world with information and communication technology for many years. However, in recent years, some foreign vendors, who non-democratic governments control, have gained significant market share in various internet infrastructures, online communications, and networked software markets. This poses a serious potential risk to US economic and national security.
A bi-partisan group is proposing the RESTRICT Act as the solution to this problem. It gives the Department of Commerce the power to review, prevent, and mitigate information (see below for a list of those powers) and communication technology…