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Kaine Announces Cosponsorship of RESTRICT Act to Counter National Security Threats from Foreign Technologies

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine announced that he will cosponsor the Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology (RESTRICT) Act, legislation that would empower the Department of Commerce to review, prevent, and mitigate information communications and technology transactions that pose undue risk to America’s national security. The legislation was introduced last week by U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and John Thune (R-SD).

“As a member of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees, America’s national security is one of my top priorities,” said Kaine. “That’s why I’m proud to cosponsor the RESTRICT Act. This comprehensive legislation would help address 21st century technological threats posed by foreign adversaries, who may seek to manipulate Americans’ personal data, or track U.S. military personnel, assets, or their families, among other dangerous steps. There is bipartisan agreement on the need to counter these threats and it’s time to turn that agreement into action.”

The legislation follows mounting concern over national security threats from companies including TikTok, whose parent company ByteDance has publicly apologized for deviating from promoting the values of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). ByteDance executives have also specifically directed the removal of material deemed politically sensitive by Beijing, such as criticism of the Chinese genocide of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang. Forbes has also reported that over the last two years, at least five TikTok senior leaders left the company after being told they would need to answer to ByteDance headquarters in Beijing.

In light of those concerns and future threats created by the rapidly changing technology and threat environment, the RESTRICT Act would establish a risk-based response process, by:

  • Requiring the Secretary of Commerce to establish procedures to identify, deter, disrupt, prevent, prohibit, and mitigate transactions involving information and communications technology products in which any foreign adversary has any interest and poses undue or unacceptable risk to U.S. national security;
  • Prioritizing evaluation of information communications and technology products used in critical infrastructure, integral to telecommunications products, or pertaining to a range of defined emerging, foundational, and disruptive technologies with serious national security implications;
  • Ensuring comprehensive actions to address risks of untrusted foreign information communications and technology products by requiring the Secretary of Commerce to take up consideration of concerning activity identified by other government entities; and
  • Educating the public and business community about the threat by requiring the Secretary of Commerce to coordinate with the Director of National Intelligence to provide declassified information on how transactions denied or otherwise mitigated posed undue or unacceptable risk.