US RESTRICT ACT: All-out Communist-fascist Boot-Stomping Dictatorship-legislation!

US RESTRICT ACT: All-out Communist-fascist Boot-Stomping Dictatorship-legislation!

It is as if the president-elect, Joe Biden, who promised to bring together instead of divide, has not missed many opportunities to divide an already polarized country even more.  Now The US government under the guise of National Security is threatening to go all-out communist-fascist boot-stomping dictatorship—not in words but deeds.

The much-touted RESTRICT ACT  is not limited to just TikTok, but affects average Americans, with the threat of jail sentences, 20 years in prison, hefty fines, upwards of 1,000,000 USD, and the forfeiture of everything you own, and that is just for starters. Even VPN users can risk long jail sentences in the US under the newly-proposed RESTRICT Act.

As Geoffrey M. Young, a Democratic candidate running for governor in the US State of Kentucky recently shared, “The Restrict Act should be called, “The Put the CIA in Control of the Internet Act.” As far as I can tell, it eliminates the First Amendment.”

This Act, at least officially, may be cited as the “Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology Act” or the “RESTRICT Act”.  The pending legislation gives the US government almost unlimited authority over all forms of communication domestic or abroad. It also grants powers to “enforce any mitigation measure to address any risk” to national security now and in any “potential future transaction”.

Whatever does that mean?

The act also grants unlimited hiring power to positions of enforcement, unlimited funds with little or no review, and immunity to FOIA. At first impression, even based on the lame news coverage, this legislation is more likely intended to pull the wool over the eyes of the American people, if passed.

It should come as no surprise that without hesitation, the White House backs the bipartisan bill that could be used to ban TikTok–calling it “a systematic framework for addressing technology-based threats to the security and safety of Americans.”

However, it is becoming obvious, even to casual observers, that the real intentions of the pending are to restrict and hold back Americans from freely accessing technology and information that is not supportive of the status quo and efforts to limit basic American liberties, such as the 1st and 4th Amendment, Free Speech and Being Secure in one’s Papers and Communications.   Critics worry it may have much wider implications for the First Amendment, as the ‘Insanely Broad’ RESTRICT Act could ban much more than just TikTok!”

So WTF is going on?

In short, under the guise of controlling Chinese and foreign governments, the US government can arbitrarily classify anyone it supposedly deems is a security threat, even US citizens as foreign individuals, and you can have your profession and life destroyed. This makes the US Patriot Act and other means of government censorship, restriction of free speech, and free trade look like child’s play.

RESTRICT renders the US government as totalitarian as the CCP, and its language and potential reach fly into the face of everything that it means to be an American. It will not only be interesting to know what the ACLU and all those so-called Watchdog organizations of free speech and human rights are going to say and do about it.

I suspect it will be passed, hands down, as was the Patriot Act in the wake of 9/11 under fueling fear of what has turned out to be “most likely” self-inflicted fears, and a false flag to boot.  They’re also claiming it’s to protect US citizens from the CCP. But then those giving us such laws turn around and the US becomes the CCP.

It’s like how Germany and Italy became fascist constructs, and how Ceausescu rose to power in Romania, stole everything from everyone, and tortured everyone with impunity. Nowadays how many under the age of 40 even know who the dictator Ceausescu was and his plight?

To stand to the side and not take notice, is in fact like being one of Hitler’s Willing Executioners; the greatest sins are those of omission.  This is about what is to come for Americans, not like what is going on in former Nazi regimes, as even now in Germany you can be prosecuted for speaking out for free speech and the provision of aid to IDPs in Ukraine, if the money was raised using social media in the West.

The whole discourse around the Restrict Act is very interesting—it is something like a Trojan Horse. However, I think it should be addressed from a wider perspective. Many governments are dealing with similar issues, but they differ a lot in terms of approach. It might be interesting to compare their examples at a later date, at least in theory, to a more virtuous one, the contrasts between the differing laws and implementation should benefit the reader greatly—and the motives are far from one another.


Any Action as Necessary!

As the National Law Review describes, the proposed RESTRICT Act grants the secretary of commerce broad authority to take “any . . . action as necessary” to carry out its responsibilities. Such authority explicitly includes establishing “rules, regulations, and procedures as the Secretary deems appropriate,” issuing guidance and advisory opinions and conducting “investigations of violations of any authorization, order, mitigation measure, regulation, or prohibition issued” under it.

Considers or deems appropriate is especially concerning, as that appears something closer to the 1917 Espionage Act in intent so that the enforces can use it as they “dam-well-please”, and it is not just targeted against adversarial relationships but ordinary folk who will be subjected to police state like procedures to control them, as in an Orwellian or Brave New World scenario.

Even protected individual and collective free speech can be interpreted without limitations as  being connected to “coercive or criminal activities by a foreign adversary that is designed to undermine democratic processes and institutions or steer policy and regulatory decisions in favor of the strategic objectives of a foreign adversary to the detriment of the national security of the United States, as determined in coordination with the Attorney General, the Director of National Intelligence, the Secretary of Treasury, and the Federal Election Commission.”

Those who do not agree with the foreign policy and methods of the United States can come under such a blanket enforcing dragnet, and all they need to do to run afoul of the legislation is to use mechanisms, electronic or share in some partnership with public and private entities are can have collective or individual assists seized amongst other threatening and punitive measures.

This includes but is not limited to cutting off money access, i.e., the use of Bitcoin since it applies to any software, hardware, or any other product or service integral to data hosting or computing service that uses, processes, or retains, or is expected to use, process, or retain, sensitive personal data in the United States at any point for the year preceding the date on which the covered transaction is referred to the Secretary for review.

Or if the Secretary initiates a review of the covered transaction, including— internet hosting services; cloud-based or distributed computing and data storage; machine learning, predictive analytics, and data science products and services, including those involving the provision of services to assist a party to utilize, manage, or maintain open-source software; managed services; and content delivery services, etc.

So it is a catch-all piece of legislation that can knot up not only foreign governments, and various entities, but individuals – who may get caught up under the swoop of this legislation simply for communicating or dealing with targeted entities, and using electronic, devices and online means to interface, transferring of things of value electronically.  So that covers so many of us, and without thinking of what we are getting ourselves into.

Covers too much territory

It gives the government authority over all forms of communication domestic or abroad and grants powers to “enforce any mitigation measure to address any risk” to national security now and in any “potential future transaction.” So this bill that claims to protect US interests from foreign entities: allows the feds to classify anyone they deem is a security threat, even US citizens as foreign individuals.

But the RESTRICT Act is going to be imposed upon US citizens as a being a concerted repose to the ills of TikTok and those SNEAKY Chinese, so clever, and for the public good; it might be wise to ban not only TikTok but the wide range of social media, as it is far more insidious than anything Made in China, including Facebook at the top of the heap.

Even the ACLU understands that the Congressional efforts to ban TikTok in the U.S. threaten the basic rights of free speech this legislation would silence 150 million Americans who use the platform daily. The American Civil Liberties Union said that blocking access to entire platforms would violate the First Amendment rights of the millions and millions of Americans who use the platform daily.

There is also another pending legislative, HR 1153, DATA Act.  It  has similar intentions—and if one piece of legislation will not be approved  then the other might.

The ACLU has confirmed in its recent press releases and correspondence that should various bills move to a vote that the “purported attempt to protect the data of U.S. persons from Chinese government acquisition, this legislation will instead limit Americans’ political discussion, artistic expression, free exchange of ideas — and even prevent people from posting cute animal videos and memes.”

It does not stop there: such legislation opens a floodgate of human rights violating activities, restricting data, and fundamental Constitutional rights, on behalf of BIG Brother and the discretion that its long list of enforcement agencies have in interpreting and enforcing enacting enabling legislation.

Collectively the shifting mindset and paradigm shift in Washington and other Capitols may take us into territory where there is no way back from the deep and dark abyss.  Under the flimsy veil “guise” of protecting us they are abusing us … and to “say otherwise: is very un-American.

It will target you for a wide range of problems: retribution as if they are not allowing tolerance, and what they claim they are doing on a limited scale under legislation to protect us from terrorists and ourselves is a far cry from the reality on the ground.

Already American journalists are targeted, with little opportunity to defend themselves, and sanctioned for exciting basic freedom of speech, under the Obama era US Treasury Sanctions, and not based on enabling legislation, but executive authority, not having access to wire transfers through Western Union and facing harassment, attacks, sudden job loses, and overt blacklisting. They have even threats to change one’s profession when arriving and departing from US airports.

All for the mere allegation of submitting articles to a foreign-funded media site, as it was a crime—and not a US Constitutionally protected right. With such legislation making its way through Congress, it is not hard to fathom what can come next, and it will make Georgia Orwell 1984 just a sample of hell.

The RESTRICT Act can be best summed up, even by think tanks that deal with digital globalization as: “No transparency, No due process, No accountability, and the designations of undue risk are made in secret. The Secretary of Commerce is not required to publish an explanation for the designation. The Administrative Procedures Act is waived – there is no due process.  The Freedom of Information Act is also waived – so there is no transparency!

“The only good thing about this law is that for once, the cute acronym attached to the bill, RESTRICT is an honest one. This law is all about restricting – if not choking off entirely –trade in information and communications technology.”

To add insult to injury, US Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia) wants the United States armed with the ability to take swift action against technology companies suspected of cavorting with foreign governments and spies, to effectively make their products disappear from shelves and app stores when the threat they pose gets too BIG to ignore

Mark Warner, officially the bill’s sponsor, describes in a recent interview with the internet outlet WIRED how “we’ve seen challenges coming from foreign-based technology. He describes how it was as originally was Kaspersky, a Russian software company, then [the next target] was Huawei, a Chinese telecom provider, and more recently, the discussion has been about this Chinese-owned social media app, TikTok.

“We seem to have a whack-a-mole approach to foreign-based technology, and I think instead we need a comprehensive rules-based approach that recognizes national security is no longer simply tanks and guns, but a question about technology and technology competition.”

But the threat is not those being targeted but from a government that is getting too BIG and intrusive for its people–it is much too preoccupied with devising new schemes to further restrict our already restricted liberties, even to speak out at school board meetings and voice concerns over issues of public concern.  Warner also thinks that “the onus is on the FBI to ensure privacy is protected, and I do have concerns about some of the American-based companies, the Facebooks and Googles of the world.”

And if anyone in their good mind wants to trust such agencies, CIA and FBI to protect basic human rights then they need to move to China or North Korea and lend their support from there, as history has taught Americans–and much of the world that such entities are not in the business of protecting rights but their “claim-to-fame” is to blatantly violent them–and with almost total impunity or legal recourse.

As much as I personally dislike Tik-Tok, no government should have that sort of power… Tik-Tok is just a lame excuse to put into law highly-suspect mechanisms to further restrict guaranteed freedoms of speech and basic human rights.

Henry Kamens, columnist, expert on Central Asia and Caucasus, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”

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