What is the RESTRICT Act (And Why Should We Care)?

Ted Millar
5 min readApr 16
Photo by charlesdeluvio on Unsplash

Censorship is a dicey subject.

While limiting sensitive information pertaining to national security is expected, we always have to consider who is behind that limiting and to what extent it may potentially run afoul of our constitutional right to reasonable privacy.

For example, the Uniting and Strengthening America By Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT) Act passed in October 2001 after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center a month before handed the federal government sweeping authority to wire-tap, bulk collect meta data, and surveil bank records.

Its potential for intrusion on people’s privacy was so controversial, Barack Obama signed the “USA Freedom Act” in 2015 to rein in bulk data collection.

A US court of appeals that year ruled bulk collection of telephone meta data unconstitutional after former National Security Agency employee Edward Snowden in 2013 sounded the alarm on the practice before fleeing for asylum in Russia.

Republicans and Democrats alike have deemed censorship a slippery slope.

Indeed, how much privacy specifically and how many of our freedoms in general can we be expected to compromise in the name of “safety and security” before they’re totally eroded?

It’s not an easy question to answer.

Today we find ourselves asking that question again.

The bipartisan Restrict Act (S.686), what some are calling the “TikTok ban” bill and others the “PATRIOT Act 2.0,” is causing a “contentious rift within both parties,” as Truthout reported.

Introduced by Democratic Va. Sen. Mark Warner, the bill with 13 republican, 11 Democrat, and one Independent co-sponsor, seeks to “authorize the Secretary of Commerce to review and prohibit certain transactions between persons in the United States and foreign adversaries, and for other purposes.

While not stating the White House supports banning TikTok in the United States, Sen. Warner stated the Biden administration is “very in favor” of ban technologies associated with foreign governments.

Ted Millar

Ted Millar is a teacher, poet, and political writer for The Left Place blog on Substack: https://theleftplace.substack.com/. Twitter: @tedmillar