The Difference Between a “National Security Threat” and Censorship

Mar 15, 2024
The Difference Between a “National Security Threat” and Censorship

What's the Difference Between TikTok Tracking Everything We Do and Google or Meta Tracking Everything We Do?

Not really a question, perhaps a comment. I just finished reading the latest Outer Limits about TikTok (Outer Limits One of the Largest PsyOps in History). I don’t understand your stance on the app. The vote in the House and Senate is about control not privacy or personal information. Our government has no control over TikTok so it wants to ban it. If it were about privacy and personal information then all social media would be included in the ban. What is the difference between TikTok tracking everything and Google or Meta or Instagram or Facebook or Apple tracking everything? It all ends up with the highest bidder anyway. The difference is that our government has control over all of them except TikTok. Just a little disappointed with your lack of full transparency on this one. Keep up the good work!! — Scot H.
So how does this differ from what the U.S. government is doing to us? — Glenn
Have you researched whether this bill gives the President dictatorial power? If you are going to be political, check that out. — Tim E.
I have read there are other posts in the bill that will allow the president to shut off other websites in the U.S. That could be an invasion of free speech if that is true. — Merle

Thanks to all for the additional feedback on this topic.

This bill that passed this week in the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R. 7521, the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act) raises so many questions, and it’s natural to wonder if there isn’t a larger government play at hand. 

The answer, of course, is that there is. And yes, it is about power and control.

The difference, as it is being framed, is that TikTok is under the control of a foreign adversary, where as Microsoft, Alphabet (Google, YouTube), Meta (Facebook, Instagram), and any other companies operating in the U.S. are not. The key distinction is that these corporations are not under control by a foreign adversary (as far as we know).

But yes, Glenn and Scott, these companies are doing many of the same things, and they are selling access to this collected data to advertisers.

And as we all know, the U.S. government not only has access to the data, these technology companies are systematically working with the White House, the CDC, FDA, Department of Homeland Security, FBI, and other government entities to censor and ban information and people who they don’t agree with. This “secret web of interests” is what is known as the Censorship Industrial Complex.

H.R. 7521 not only gives the U.S. government the ability to prohibit TikTok from operating in the U.S. while it is under the control of the Chinese government, but it also applies to any other software application that is deemed to be under control by a foreign adversary. 

But probably more concerning than H.R. 7521 is S.686, known as the RESTRICT Act. This is basically a digital equivalent of the Patriot Act, which would give the executive branch of the government sweeping powers to surveil U.S. citizens and control their usage of applications or usage of the internet.

As the act states, the U.S. government can:

“take action to identify, deter, disrupt, prevent, prohibit, investigate, or otherwise mitigate, including by negotiating, entering into, or imposing, and enforcing any mitigation measure to address any risk arising from any covered transaction by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.”

Notice that it says, “transaction by any person.” It is not just limited to a software application. The language is so broad that it basically says that anyone deemed by the executive branch of the U.S. government to be a threat, will be dealt with.

So Tim and Merle, the concerns that you raised are absolutely legitimate if the RESTRICT Act is passed.

This is truly frightening. There is way too much room for abuse of power. And if we’ve learned anything over the last few years, the government has taken every advantage to abuse its power and assert even more control over our constitutional rights.

Is Temu Just As Dangerous?

My grandsons believe that Temu is much worse that TikTok and a much bigger Chinese exposure. What are your thoughts about Temu? — Ray D.

Hi Ray,

I’m glad you asked this. I hate to say that your grandsons are 100% correct, and it’s great that they know about this.

For those who are unfamiliar with Temu, it’s an online shopping app similar to Amazon. In fact, it’s now the second-most popular shopping app in the U.S. after Amazon.

The parent company of Temu is Pinduoduo Holdings, which also has an app under its own name.

These apps have already been determined to have executed zero-day exploits on millions of phones. A zero-day exploit basically means that the malware has complete access to the phone.  The hackers can take pretty much anything they want.

Temu, and Pinduoduo, are known to be just as bad as TikTok. The software can even un-install competitor apps from users’ phones. And there has been reports of the theft of credit card information taken from Temu purchases. We should think of Temu as spyware and malware.  Very dangerous to use.

And there is an even larger concern at play.

There are other apps that are created by China-based software publishers that have the ability to do the same thing. This kind of spyware can come in unsuspecting packaging, like a software app used to identify plant species.

I’m afraid this isn’t an isolated incident with just TikTok and Temu either. A few years ago, I remember that India banned more than 100 apps from China-based developers for the same reasons. They are part of an extensive surveillance network on the Western world.

The basic rule of thumb is to check and understand who the software developer/publisher is before downloading the software. This applies to any app you intend to download and use. Make sure it isn’t a China-based developer just to be safe.

Welcome to the Outer Limits with Jeff Brown. New reader? We encourage you to visit our FAQ, which you can access right here. You may also catch up on past issues right here in the Outer Limits archive.

If you have any questions, comments, or feedback, we always welcome them. We read every email and address the most common threads in the Friday AMA. Please write to us 

Previous Post Next Post