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If you’ve been on TikTok in the last week or so, you’ve probably seen something on your For You Page about the “TikTok Ban” Bill, or rather, Bill S. 686, also known as the Restrict Act.
In case you haven’t, this bill has been introduced, in part, to try and limit access to American data from foreign governments. 
The reason people are referring to it as the TikTok Ban (even though the word “TikTok” is never mentioned in the bill itself) is because it would effectively ban American usage of the Chinese-owned app. Last week TikTok CEO Shou Chew also testified before lawmakers in a much memed-event about the company’s attempts to protect US user data and ease concerns about its ties to China. 
While I understand the desire to ensure national security, and that this could be happening because other nations have made the decision to ban TikTok, I don’t think that’s the full story.
I watched this video from SayHeyJames on TikTok where he broke down the other initiatives outlined within the bill, and to be honest, it was a little scary.
The main issue for me is that while this bill does seek to ban foreign access to American data, it is also looking to give the American government full access to our data as well. Some media are even calling the bill the “Patriot Act for the internet.”
The passing of this bill would allow the American government access to any devices (modems, VPNs, smart thermostats, ring cameras, etc.) which use the internet. This access would be solely supervised by a “secretary of communication,” an appointed—not voter selected—individual who would then be granted the power to form a committee of other appointed (again, not voter selected) individuals to help moderate the government’s access to its citizens.
I don’t usually write about this stuff, but I think it’s really important that I use my platform to spread all the information when possible, especially when I see only a piece of the facts being circulated. Frankly, TikTok being banned is the least intrusive part of this bill, and I think people need to know that the other points outlined within it could be far worse than getting a video app banned.
Countless individuals, myself included, have built livelihoods on TikTok. Banning the app would result in an immediate economic impact for many people and businesses who rely on it. As our country faces a huge recession, that’s not very comforting either. As TikTok CEO Shou Chew explained to lawmakers, Bytedance recently pledged $1.5 billion to move the servers from China to Austin, TX to prevent the ban. I am, as a business owner and proponent of our internet access remaining free, hoping this is a viable solution.
Back in 2020, when then President Trump tried to ban TikTok, there was a moment when part of me was relieved that I would no longer have to post my entire life on the internet. That being said, I never thought the alternative would be to have my entire life closely and silently monitored by the U.S. government. 
Whatever your views are, please make sure you are doing your research. Social media has a way of grabbing the most buzz-worthy part of the news and leaving out other very important pieces. No matter which side of this issue you lean to, I think we can all agree we don’t actually want an FBI agent watching our every move online—even if it does provide us with the best curated selection of memes. Do your research, call your representatives and urge lawmakers to make laws that WHOLLY benefit the American people without leaving us open to potential danger.
Stay informed & stay safe! <3
Sienna Mae Gomez