This piece was originally published in The Hill.
Imagine posting content to Facebook or Twitter critical of the federal government, only to have agents knocking on your door a few days later, demanding your computer, and claim that you helped promote a foreign narrative. The officials come armed only with subpoenas, not warrants, and you find that the courts are powerless to stop them. You must turn over your computer or face hundreds of thousands, or millions, of dollars in fines.
There is a reason that scenarios like this do not happen: the Fourth Amendment guarantees freedom from warrantless and unreasonable searches and seizures. But in Congress’s frenzy to ban the Chinese app TikTok, it risks sacrificing this freedom by giving the federal government the power to ban nearly any app or social media platform deemed a national security risk.
Members of Congress are in a rush to ban TikTok after its CEO, Shou Zi Chew, testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee last month. Several weeks before the testimony, a bipartisan group of senators introduced the Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology (RESTRICT) Act as a “comprehensive, risk-based approach that proactively tackles sources of potentially dangerous technology before they gain a foothold in America.” The legislation has the backing of President Biden.