Concerns over US RESTRICT act (Bill S.686)

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Well-known member
Sep 16, 2020
Ontario, Canada
There was a post about the US RESTRICT act (Bill S.686) that was mostly incorrect. It was removed for that reason, but rather than leave a void of information on the topic, here is some actually useful information.

Here's the text of the bill itself, for those with the legal rigour to get meaning from it

Here's some writing from a trustworthy writer of legal topics linked from that article is this summary of the bill:

Now for some opinion: the bill is probably a very dumb idea... but what it is not is targeted at individual people. It is targeted at the "banned" organizations, as summarized in the above link:

The Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology (RESTRICT) Act would:
• Require the Secretary of Commerce to establish procedures to identify, deter, disrupt, prevent, prohibit, and mitigate transactions involving information and communications technology products in which any foreign adversary has any interest and poses undue or unacceptable risk to national security.
• Prioritize evaluation of ICT products used in critical infrastructure, integral to telecommunications products, or pertaining to a range of defined emerging, foundational, and disruptive technologies with serious national security implications.
• Ensure comprehensive actions to address risks of untrusted foreign ICT by requiring the Secretary to take up consideration of concerning activity identified by other USG entities.
• Educate the public and business community about the threat by requiring the Secretary of Commerce to coordinate with the Director of National Intelligence to provide declassified information on how transactions denied or otherwise mitigated posed undue or unacceptable risk.

Yes that is legalize, but a translation of it might be:
- Determine which entities should be blocked (including reports from other federal organizations)
- Block access to said entities by technical means
- Prevent use of blocked entities products in critical infrastructure
- Educate the public about the risks and why the entities are considered risks

Now, as ever, there are motivated people on both sides of any issue, and they will read those bullets to mean anything they might be opposed to. No doubt the "information" linked from the previously removed posting was supported by one of the entities that would be affected (TikTok probably) and so they are propagating communications that support their viewpoint.

These forums are not for spreading fear-mongering or misinformation. This topic is currently very politically charged because there are well funded and politically active entities on any side. (For example, it's probably in Meta's best interests to support any block of TikTok.) If you participate by posting here on this topic, please try and keep it intellectual and factual and restrict the emotional and political aspects. If you're politically motivated to make noise, direct said noise directly to your local Congress Critter. Posts that are deemed unreasonable will be removed without notice.
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I have attempted to review your post from an objective point of view. I haven't had time to look at the links. I have also attempted to review the previously mentioned post from an objective point of view. I am not aware of misinformation in the prior post. However, if there potentially was some, the best, and possibly only way to determine that is to allow people on each side of the "issue" to post their opinion and sources. Then readers can look at the evidence and determine which side if any is correct or if both sides are incorrect. Even consensus doesn't mean something is correct. For example, there used to be a consensus that the sun was the center of the universe and that the Earth was flat. We now know those not to be true.

The law in question has very broad and far reaching language which is potentially very dangerous to a Constitutional Republic such as ours. No law of this sort should ever be passed quickly without extensive and comprehensive debate about the pros cons and direct and indirect effects. Attempts to jam something through quickly and with little or no discussion are universally harmful.

There are several criteria that any good law must meet.

A) It must be constitutional. By definition, the constitution is the highest law in the land. If something violates the constitution, it is illegal, null, and void right off the bat. We have many unconstitutional laws on the books and many times they are struck down upon later legal challenges.

B) It must be reasonably expected to accomplish an appropriate purpose with minimal invasion and encroachment and erosion of our freedoms privileges and heritage.

C) It must be resistant to abuse by use and interpretation above and beyond the strict language of the law. It is a known and proven fact throughout history that governments, agencies, and individuals abuse broad and generic laws to do things way beyond their original intent. There are always unintended consequences and those are almost always harmful to our individual freedoms and liberties.

Any law that does not meet these criteria should never be passed. The proponents of this bill have been pushing this out aggressively and even trying to force binding votes without any meaningful discussion or even in some cases reading the bill. Voting on a bill without reading it is a hideous act. This rush to unthoughtful and undebated judgment is the worst possible approach.

Hopefully, before passing laws to ban Tik Tok, or any other app, we can take a pause and determine what is actually appropriate to our constitution, our history, our heritage, and our legitimate needs. I've even expressed possible endorsement of the idea of restricting Tik Tok, but not in this reckless manner.

May your bits be stable and your interfaces be fast. :cool: Ron
Ron, you are or were most likely being manipulated by TikTok (as was your "source.") They're spreading misinformation about this law because it would likely impact them. Your "source," who I am not even going to name, is NOT a purveyor of anything close to facts, let along even coverage of any topic. The attempt to portray that any citizen is facing any harm by this law is an "emotional hot button," and is not justified by the content of the law, as written. The law targets foreign entities, not US citizens.
I'm not a user of Tik Tok nor a fan nor a hater. If they're a national security risk, then we must carefully consider what to do about it. We can agree to disagree about my source. I have skimmed the text of the law and even doing that made my eyes glaze over, as do most laws. But I was left with the impression that the language was overly broad and generic and could be misinterpreted or abused. If I get time to read more thoroughly or find more cogent commentary, I'll be glad to share that. I definitely do not trust the sponsors or writers of the law to adequately evaluate nor publicize the potential downsides and risks to our Republic however. If everybody here starts digging into it, maybe we can come to some reasonable conclusions about how the law really would impact us. I suggest those interested YouTube for "restrict act" 2023 and check out some various commentaries, although there are not a lot there at this point. My main point is that rushing to judgement on something like this, giving unelected government bureaucrats the ability to regulate and monitor the entire internet, is a horrible idea.

May your bits be stable and your interfaces be fast. :cool: Ron
I'm on my 3rd attempted pass to read through this law. About half way through I generally feel like I'm going to fall out of the chair metaphorically. No wonder people have trouble acting on laws when it's nearly impossible to read them, at least for me. The senators and congress critters should be given medals and certifications for expertise in butchering the English language. Giving up for now. Supper time.

May your bits be stable and your interfaces be fast. :cool: Ron
I suggest those interested YouTube for "restrict act" 2023
Like you Ron, I've never used TikTok, and can't imagine I ever would. I do have some concerns, though, that TikTok is being unfairly targeted as a distraction from politics in North America. (It's very easy to pretend that people should pay no attention to the bogeyman at home when you're yelling about a greater danger from afar.)

Being able to post on YouTube does not make you a legal scholar, nor even an intelligent commentator. A great many YT videos are secretly sponsored by those who have something to gain by the content of the video. If you're interested enough to look for such content, hopefully you're also intelligent enough to watch it with an open mind, and to avoid emotional "hot button" call's to action without also doing your own review of the actual "threat" (if any.) I would argue more of the content on YouTube is more on an edge (any edge) because the YT algorithm appears to reward engagement and "enragement." (i.e. anything that causes you to send other people to the same content.)

It makes more sense to me to stand back and ask who stands to gain from any legal change. The answers are not average citizens... it's politicians, Meta (or competition for those entities like TikTok facing the ban) and of course those entities themselves (if they can manage to enrage enough people to block the legislation.) These are also the people who are likely sponsoring all the videos and other content about this topic, whichever side they're coming at you from.
I do have some concerns, though, that TikTok is being unfairly targeted as a distraction from politics in North America. (It's very easy to pretend that people should pay no attention to the bogeyman at home when you're yelling about a greater danger from afar.)

Being able to post on YouTube does not make you a legal scholar, nor even an intelligent commentator. A great many YT videos are secretly sponsored by those who have something to gain by the content of the video.
All those are good points. I would normally support the people supporting this bill. In this case, however, I'm concerned that they're pushing a bunch of broad privacy invading and constitutionally problematic rules that will be abused, like they did after the World Trade Center attacks in 2001 with the Patriot Act. That's why NSA is vacuuming up all our cell phone meta data. You're right that YT videos are all over the map in quality. Usually the good ones are about 1 out of 20, but after a while, you start to get a sense of whether they know their stuff or not. People being paid to shill for a product they might not otherwise is a big problem. I think other video sources like Rumble, Vimeo, and Brighteon are much less likely to censor things or screw with the rankings, but there's lots less videos too. Unfortunately, more credible services like law newsletters and firms are too expensive to use.

I have a strong suspicion that this bill is way more dangerous than it is helpful. That suspicion is only enhanced by the way they're trying to jam it through.

May your bits be stable and your interfaces be fast. :cool: Ron
I haven't read the EFF piece yet but I very much respect their group. The problem is any time someone tries to ram a bill through without time to read it and discuss it, or any time the big money, big industry, big government, world government people are pushing something, it's almost universally bad for liberty, freedom, and our constitution. Hopefully the people who are actually concerned about such things can light a fire under the senators and congress people to actually have a proper debate and (horrors) actually read the bill before voting on it.

May your bits be stable and your interfaces be fast. :cool: Ron
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