What would a TikTok ban mean for the future of the U.S.?

Zoe Watts, Editor in Chief

As of April 2023, TikTok has more than 150 million active users in the United States, 138 million of whom are voting age. Since Jan. 2021, TikTok has been the most downloaded app nationwide. With more than 45% of the U.S. population on TikTok, government officials in Congress have started to see red flags.
On March 7, 2023, several members of Congress introduced a bi-partisan bill called the Restrict Act, otherwise known as S.686. The bill was sponsored by Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia.
On the surface, proposed bill S.686 implements a full ban on TikTok on all U.S. devices. A more in-depth read, however, reveals that the bill’s implementation would lead to terrifying consequences for the citizens of the U.S. Most people aren’t aware of the scope of the bill that is currently being debated in the Senate.
The beginning of the bill outlines the danger of apps such as TikTok. In condensed terms, the bill’s ban on TikTok is proposed from the standpoint that foreign adversaries will use international apps to spy on U.S. citizens and threaten national security. As the TikTok CEO testified, however, the app collects no long-term data that could potentially harm a user or lead to danger.
The bill’s ability to ban apps is just the tip of the iceberg. The proposed legislation also outlines the ramifications of using a device, such as a VPN, to bypass and access banned apps. It is detailed that using a VPN for the purpose of viewing banned content is classified as a criminal act and is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Additionally, the ambiguous writing of the bill makes it unclear just how far the bans will go, leaving several people concerned that more apps will follow in TikTok’s footsteps if the legislation passes.
The most terrifying part of the bill, however, is the censorship and monitoring that comes with it. The legislation outlines that the government can monitor any individual’s personal technology, such as routers, video game consoles, streaming services, ring cameras, and security cameras, without their consent or knowledge.
Essentially, the government would have the ability to go through anyone’s texts, DMs, or accounts without the user’s consent or knowledge and censor content that is deemed inappropriate or dangerous.
Not only is the proposed bill an incredible violation of the first amendment, it’s comparable to a dystopian world. The implementation of S.686 would destroy America’s current guise of democracy.
We have trusted our elected officials to represent us and our values. The fact that there is a debate about this bill at all has proven that those in Congress meant to better our country are dead-set on tearing it down.
While countless protests about abortion, transgender rights, and gun control continue to occur, those in Congress continue to ignore us. Our Senators are busy debating a bill that shatters the first amendment, censors our media, and allows them to monitor us 24/7, instead of focusing on the issues we need them to solve.
Those we elect to office are supposed to protect and uphold American ideals. Our senators are meant to represent our country and fight for our freedom. Every day, however, we seem to get further from freedom and closer to dystopia. America, the land of the “free.”