Policy Insight: The RESTRICT Act

The US Senate, with support from the White House, has introduced the RESTRICT Act, a piece of legislation that would, according to the White House, “empower the United States government to prevent certain foreign governments from exploiting technology services operating in the United States in a way that poses risks to Americans’ sensitive data and our national security.”

Policy Insight:

According to Kevin Bocek, VP Ecosystem and Community at Venafi:

“The recently introduced RESTRICT Act would establish new, broad powers for the US Government to target possible threats to national security, personal privacy, and competitive threats. This goes well beyond a TikTok ban. It could change everything, from the phones in our pockets, to who gets to use emerging AI. And it brings back memories of the Encryption Wars of the 1990s when governments sought to control encryption technologies that we take for granted with bans and backdoors.

We’re now at a serious point in time, where the technologies in our pockets, homes, streets, businesses, airports and beyond can be used as part of kinetic warfare. And the RESTRICT Act targets the issues that we must face in the West.

Governments are finally waking up to the fact that adversaries don’t just use missiles and tanks – but instead, they take advantage of modern-day technology, controlled by machines connecting to the Internet. The worrying reality is that this technology can be monitored and controlled. For example, cranes built in China that offload containers from ships can not only be monitored but also potentially hijacked to create chaos and damage. Likewise, technologies from generative AI, to the graphic cards that make machine learning happen, are available globally and can be abused by adversaries.

The potential impact of the RESTRICT Act isn’t just a ban on TikTok. It’s the opening to what’s likely to be a decades long technology Cold War. One where the machines and software they run – which powers economies and innovation – will become a battleground for governments looking to stop adversaries in the AI, always-connected, and cloud computing driven age.”