RESTRICT Act threatens access to TikTok over security concern

As tensions heighten between the U.S. and foreign adversaries, national security around technology is becoming a hot topic.


A Pew Research Center study conducted in March 2023 showed that twice as many Americans support a ban than oppose it.

The RESTRICT Act, or the Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology Act, was proposed to the Senate on Mar. 7. If passed, this bill would grant the Department of Commerce the ability to identify, disrupt and prohibit information and communications technology which threaten national security or the safety of U.S. citizens.

The bill aims to counteract the growing number of untrusted foreign vendors who have a large share in the software market and ICT by increasing the national security of technology involving foreign adversaries. The act defines China, Cuba, Iran, Russia, North Korea, and a regime of Venezuela as such. Although never mentioning TikTok, this bill has been recognized as a means to try to ban the use of the app in the U.S.

I felt that using the app filled up significant time in my breaks throughout the day and thought I could be using that time in a better way.

— Milan Mishra

In January 2022, URL Genius found that YouTube and TikTok collected the most data out of 10 social apps. While YouTube made contact with 10 first-party networks and four third-party networks, TikTok made 13 third-party contacts and just one first-party contact. This report illustrated the amount that user data is transferred.

Although there are security concerns with the app, many people see the benefits that the app brings as more important than the negatives. “I find myself laughing really hard at TikTok videos and being able to bond with my friends over the app, so I would be pretty upset if it was banned,” senior Cayenne Ramirez said. “I’m not really concerned about the app stealing my information.”

For users, the app brings entertainment, a creative outlet, connection with friends, and a way to branch out to different communities. Even with all the support the app receives from its adolescent audience, some are not impressed. Sophomore Milan Mishra recently deleted TikTok, not because of security concerns but because of the time he spent on his phone. “I felt that using the app filled up significant time in my breaks throughout the day and thought I could be using that time in a better way,” he said.

Aside from the controversy of banning TikTok, the bill has been facing opposition for being too vague and having the possibility to ban and criminalize the use of other technology, such as VPNs. “I don’t think that the app should be banned as I don’t think the risks being talked about with TikTok are completely unique to the app, but everybody should probably think about how they personally use it,” Mishra said.

Although the act has yet to go through the full legislative process, it only has the support of 18 senators as of right now, which is not enough to pass.