The Restrict Act, restricts your freedom!
Our foundational concept of freedom, along with the core tenet of democracy, is itself enshrined in our First Amendment. Our founding fathers knew that for freedom and liberty to survive in a world that has always drifted towards oppression and tyranny, guaranteeing our “Freedom of Speech, Movement, and Assembly” (above all else) would be the lynch pin to Freedom’s very survival. This applies even in the virtual world.
As of late, we have watched those in government drive their own agenda, and increase their power and survival by stripping citizens of their Constitutionally protected First Amendment freedoms and liberties.
Remember Covid? Don’t question the science or the attributed death count, or face being deplatformed. Remember Hunter Biden’s laptop? Don’t question its authenticity, or be silenced and accused of being a Russian agent. Remember concerned parents exercising their rights as tax-paying citizens to question their school boards about woke policies being enacted? The current administration thought it was worthy of sicking the Justice Department on these concerned parents and labeling them as domestic terrorists. What about the popular app Parler that shot up in popularity among conservatives when it started being canceled and deplatformed on other social media platforms? As soon as it was perceived as a threat to the powers that be, a coordinated effort by big tech and the U.S. government completely de-platformed not just its users but the app itself. These are but a few examples of what is happening all around us today, and the end result of this kind of drift can be accurately predicted.
As goes your First Amendment liberties, so goes all of your other freedoms. Do we want the government to be the sole arbiter of WHEN you can talk, WHAT you can say or WHERE you can express your ideas?
Currently before the United States Congress is what is known as the “Restrict Act”.
This piece of far reaching legislation is co-authored by Republican Senator John Thune and Democrat Senator Mark Warner. It empowers the Commerce Department and the President with broad non-specific powers relating to transactions and postings on the internet. But it doesn’t stop there. While the Act has been labeled by many as the “Tic-Tok Ban Bill'', the platform Tic-Tok is never actually named in the bill. And while the primary targets of this legislation are said to be companies like Tic-Tok, the ramifications are much more dire. According to Coin Center, the bill could potentially be used to block or disrupt cryptocurrency transactions, and block American’s very access to open source tools or protocols like Bitcoin. The Act could also be used to criminalize virtual private networks (VPNs), a service many Americans use to protect their identities and locations while on the internet.
Part of the powers granted in the Act to the Presidentially appointed Secretary of Commerce is
“to review and prohibit certain transactions between persons in the United States and foreign adversaries”.
“Certain” is not very well defined, and neither is “Foreign Adversary”. Granting this power begs the following question: who exactly determines if and when someone is a foreign adversary or when they are acting in a manner which deserves being banned or prosecuted? Should it be by a politically appointed internet czar? Remember Hunter Biden’s laptop and all of the Justice Department’s analysts that claimed it was Russian disinformation? They coordinated with big tech and blocked the dissemination of the now proven to be legitimate story. Imagine the ramifications should this Act pass with regards to anyone who is speaking a counter narrative to those in power both in and outside of our country? One needs only to be identified as a foreign adversary, or just in collusion with one.
If Tic-Tok is the true impetus for this legislation, why isn’t it even named in the Act? Why the hypocrisy and double standard for personal data collection and distribution of that data as it relates to the rest of our American-based social media sites?
The power to regulate IS the power to control. Never forget that it's not just the actors who the government claims need to be regulated that are affected…but every single person who would otherwise have interacted with them. For Tic-Tok, that’s about 150 million Americans. For VPNs, about 220 million Americans say they have used one in the past. When it comes to cryptocurrency owners, it's estimated at about 50 million Americans. Who knows who else could feel the sting if this legislation becomes reality?
Today it's you, tomorrow it's me. Freedom is never safe, and it is often messy. It seldom exists without conflict or risk, and it is always the enemy of those who crave power. If history has taught us anything, it is that we should fight for our freedoms at all costs and in every venue, or we most certainly will find ourselves one day with none.
Don’t hand over any more of your freedoms to the government. Contact your Senator today and demand they kill the Restrict Act.