The Restrict Act is proposed legislation that was first introduced in the U.S. Senate on March 7, 2023. Find out why you should care about the Act with our short explainer.
What is the Restrict Act?
The Restrict Act’s full name is the Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology Act. It is currently proposed legislation under consideration by Congress. (Read the full text here.)
The stated purpose of the Act is to limit national security risks by allowing the Department of Commerce to review, block, and mitigate transactions involving foreign information and communications technology (ICT) that pose undue risk.
In other words, the Act would make it easier for the U.S. government to ban or force the sale of specific software or equipment from certain countries if it’s deemed to pose a spying risk.
What countries’ products would the Restrict Act affect?
The bill applies to technology connected to a “foreign adversary” of the U.S. Only six countries fall under this designation: China (including Hong Kong and Macau), Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia, and Venezuela.
What types of technology are we talking about?
The Act would give the government power to scrutinize just about any technology—from internet hosting services to satellite payloads to mobile apps—as long as they are used by more than 1 million people in the U.S.
What does this have to do with TikTok?
A lot—and the TikTok case explains why the bill has a strong support base.
Many agree that there are particular privacy risks to using foreign-owned apps like TikTok. The U.S. government’s fear is that the Chinese government could force TikTok to provide sensitive data it’s collected on American users or use TikTok’s content recommendation algorithm to spread misinformation or propaganda. The U.S. has tried to get TikTok to store its U.S. users’ data on domestic servers, and it’s tried to force TikTok’s parent company ByteDance to sell the platform—both to no avail. A ban is the last resort. And legally, it’s not straightforward to do so. A few years back, President Donald Trump wanted to ban the app but didn’t have the authority to remove it from the App Store or Google Play. The Restrict Act is meant to give the government clear power to ban any app that could threaten Americans’ security.
Supporters of the bill want the government to have this power.
Are people raising objections?
Yes. There are various concerns surrounding the bill:
- The bill covers a broad range of technologies, while giving the government the power to intervene under broad circumstances, such as where they see “undue or unacceptable risk to the national security of the United States or the safety of United States persons.”
- The Act could give the government too much power to ban apps and services that allow people to communicate, such as TikTok, thereby limiting freedom of expression. It could give the government too much leeway to control and censor information.
- Some media articles have raised an alarm over whether using a VPN to access services banned in the U.S. could be interpreted as illegal based on the Act. This is based on sections describing services “designed or intended to evade or circumvent the application of this Act” as being covered under the Act. (More on that next.)
So … does the Restrict Act make it punishable to use a VPN?
First off, it’s important to note that the Restrict Act has yet to pass into law. But the bill as written is vague, covering a lot of ground with broad language. The sections that could be alluding to VPNs describe services “designed or intended to evade or circumvent the application of this Act” as being in violation of the Act. It is unknown how this will be interpreted as far as consumer VPNs go.
Media articles have reported that a spokesperson for Mark Warner, one of the leaders behind the bill, explicitly said that “the punishments in the bill would not be used against ordinary citizens.”
This is the media statement from Warner:
Under the terms of the bill, someone must be engaged in ‘sabotage or subversion’ of American communications technology products and services, creating ‘catastrophic effects’ on U.S. critical infrastructure, or ‘interfering in, or altering the result’ of a federal election, in order to be eligible for any kind of criminal penalty … To be extremely clear, this legislation is aimed squarely at companies like Kaspersky, Huawei, and TikTok that create systemic risks to the United States’ national security—not at individual users.
We will continue to keep a close eye on the bill’s development and assess its potential impact on VPN use, and encourage everyone to stay informed and take steps to protect their privacy online.
A Truth you won’t hear anywhere..
America is not a Democracy, Its a Republic. A republic protects the rights of the individual above all.. a democracy takes over for the collective rights they allow.
Our domestic enemy are preparing the way for their real paymasters, Red China. Everything congress does always benefits Red China or it doesn’t get done.. think back to first days of covid when Trump shutdown air traffic blocking all flights from Asia and specifically Red China.. our uncivil servants went ballistic even though covid was was already known to have originated in a red. Covid was originally claimed to be Chinese lab funded by Fauci’s agency and only affecting older people.. the ones with memories of crimes against humanity committed by the Chinese Commies.
Never underestimate the depth of corruption and Treason Red China is responsible for creating.. after all we paid for it already in Gold.. as soon as you think it isn’t possible you have just proven why they did it.
Diane Feinstein chauffeured by a Chine Communist agent for 15 years.. who else do they own.. ?
The government is laying the groundwork for complete control over Citizens in the USA the kind our founding fathers tried to prevent 250 years ago. They want control of the Americam society that is an order of magnitude over Communist USSR. The U.S. Constitution and its Amendments is the #1 threat against the Globalist’s Agenda. So this Bill is a huge chip away to personal freedoms and a prelude to Globalist agendas such as Central Bank Digital Currency, Medical Digital Passport, Social Credit System, etc. The problem is Americans are so easily fooled and divided and weak. They lambast BLM riots but dont realize the only way they are going to get their country back is by force. I haveba personal theory: I feel same people who told Chris Rock and Will Smith to distract us on Oscars Night from the fact that the USA was supporting a Nazi Regime in Ukraine in a proxy war against a privoked Russia, probably pushed for Trumps arrest and told the Dalai Lama to do pedophilia stuff before cameras to distract us from this Restrict Act.
Actually our biggest threat to America is Lazy, Selfish, Spoiled Americans.
Make sure you take 5 minutes to write your congress-person and Senators to tell them to oppose this bill. It is easy to do online. Here is what I wrote ” I am writing you to urge to to NOT SUPPORT the so-called “RESTRICT ACT” introduced on March 7th. I have never read an abomination so dystopian and anti-American as this. Did George Orwell himself write this??? This is one of the biggest proposals of governmental over-reach I have ever seen. It reads like something North Korea or China would do to its citizens. I have discussed this issue with dozens of friends and family members who also live in your district and we all feel the same about this garbage piece of legislation and most of us are no fans of “TIK-TOK” which this bill apparently proposes to ban. I urge you to fiercely fight against this bill and to vote NO should it come to that. I look forward to hearing back from you. Thank you.”
THIS BILL is outrageous. Have you read it. Anything conservatives say can land them in jail if the democrats say so. IF THIS PASSES, we are a communist country. But, some could make the claim we are a communist country at present.
I don’t post on much on people’s rights and government activities, but this is important. It is a deeper infringement move by our government to remove more of our implied technical freedoms we have built equipment for. FYI- commercialized radio and TV drove the FCC into some bad policies into airwave allocations, speech manipulations and censorships for most foreign government but basically now our own blacked out news. Take heed of this activity as it will be rolled in by law driving the commercialized internet world to use the TOR system that now requires a special web browser to a open IP address system to be easily spied and monitored by a commercial provider, Also See( 47 U.S. Code § 230 – Protection for private blocking and screening of offensive material). This may be in place already.
B U L L S H * T
Government subjugation is the end result.
This “explainer” comes across as government propaganda. You quote a media statement from the bill’s main promoter instead of the bill itself, which, by the way, is a monstrous power grab.
ExpressVPN for some reason decided to take it upon itself to “explain” the bill for those of us too dim to understand it. I’m extremely disappointed and will re-think my use of the platform if you are using your position to manufacture consent for this garbage bill.
If VPNs become criminal, I’ll not use the Internet anymore. I don’t even use social media, but I still want my privacy online. And no matter what any politician says, I don’t believe them.
I am totally against this legislation! The language in the bill is so vague that it allows to be interpreted and used at the discression of the Government. Just another form of totalitarian control. If we give away our right to free speach we will never get it back.
This can and will be used against “ordinary ” citizens! The language is vague. Define “security risk”. Define “sabotage “. Why so worried about Tik Tok gathering info?? The NSA does this everyday, been doing it for years! All apps gather info on ordinary citizens!! It will give the authorities the right to spy on your home security service, inside and out! This is a very intrusive bill using Tik Toc as an excuse to gain more control over ordinary citizens. Have you seen the truthers on Tic Tok exposing the governments nefarious actions? Much has been revealed and the guilty want that app silenced. They want ordinary citizens sillenced! This is about gaining total control and surveillance. Interviews with those who want this bill passed will lie. Ha! The Patriot Act never caught one so called terrorist! Really now. Its simple. They cannot control the contents on Tic Tok. They don’t like the revealing nature of the content. Its about silencing that information!
Do u know TikTok is made by Chinese company. By chinese law every company must share data when asked by the government .That is a huge risk. China is the number one enemy of this world .You mentioned NSA spies on people so what it’s a national agency. And tictoc is the Chinese app it’s letting all the content you talking about because it benefits Chinese govt agenda. The way you talked about data gathering and other stuff .It proves you have no knowledge of what enemies can do with other country data. Ignorant people like you are the reason china is the second largest economy and about to overtake USA .The chinese govt you are defending banned TikToc in it’s country though
Leave it to our government to sneak in some Orwellian, Surveillance state verbage and wording into this Bill. No wonder it has support from both sides of the Political spectrum. We need to stop this from passing. Our lives depend on it
While I think TikTok is a security threat, this is not the way to stop it. This bill is designed to give more power to DC, it has little to do with what info goes to China. Think about this for a moment: TikTok is such a great threat to national security but the billions of chinese made, Internet-connected security cameras on every other home and business isn’t? Give me a break. C’Mon Man!
The same government told you vaccines are safe and effective, that natural immunity is less effective than vaccine and that covid was going to mutate into a more dangerous varient. All these things are proven to be false yet here we are. Be careful who you trust.
Spoken like a true bootlicker. People should probably ditch ExpressVPN for this. It is too common that politicians say one thing and do another.
Your bland endorsement of the Restrict Act is a death wish not just for ExpressVPN but for all of us who value our constitutional right to be secure our persons, papers and effects — such as our online effects. It’s become obvious that this Act has almost noting to do with Chinese spying and everything to do with a totalitarian end-run around the First and Fourth Amendments. The restrict act gives unchallengeable authority to government agents to pry into every corner of our digital lives — the bureaucrats’ decisions are not subject to lawsuits!
If Express VPN wants to commit suicide, that’s your choice, but please don’t take the rest of us with you. If you want to continue to grow and prosper, please investigate this proposed monstrosity of a law more deeply. You could start with:
And take a close look at the Fourth Amendment: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
I implore you to join with others in your industry in supporting the movement to blast this bill into the oblivion of rejected totalitarian trash where it belongs.
To be clear, ExpressVPN is not endorsing the Restrict Act.
This is the beginning of censorship. if the act is passed then they will continue to censor everything on the internet. We should be against this act.
I am totally against this bill because it starts out saying that it will be used only against companies that are not america. Then the verbiage changes below telling us that this gives our government the right and permission to take down any social media of any kind that they are against. This particular Administration wants to shut off anything that is not of their liberal thinking so figure that out.
Instead of just saying “I’m against this bill” altogether. How about considering what can be made to make changes to alter the negatives of the bill rather than just thinking of it as a zero sum game.
Being outright against something doesn’t solve the issue, the whole point is to let them know what are more appropriate changes that can be made to avoid having a far reaching legislation filled with loopholes that can and will be abused.
It is not an issue of yes or no.
Except the act is drafted and sponsored by the Republican Party, so the liberal boogeyman here isn’t really lining up. You missed the mark. Personally, I think someone wanting to push alternative apps in the US lobbied to have this passed under the guise of national security as a way to make a pile of money. It’s a much simpler explanation.
Nothing to do with liberal thinking Beverly. Trump started this path and it is the correct path to take on this Spyware. Stop blaming a particular political party and look at the facts Beverly. I wouldn’t want any of the providers or countries listed to be installed or connecting to my network.
Yeah… sure… Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota and the other 12 Republican Cosponsors of this bill are SUUUUUUUUUPPPPEEERRR liberal. If a literal VPN company is saying not to worry about it, maybe just trust their judgement and not listen to Russian or Chinese-influenced media outlets.