TikTok Should Be Banned, Government Announces
FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr wants TikTok to be banned due to security concerns.
FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr has called for the United States government to ban TikTok over national security risks posed by the social media app’s ties to China. The Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission argued that any other resolution would not adequately address concerns that Beijing could improperly access the data of millions of American users.
Several news reports about TikTok’s handling of U.S user data has left Carr with little confidence in a path forward. Speaking to CNN Business he said, “Perhaps the deal Council on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) ends up cutting is an amazing, airtight deal. But I have a difficult time looking at TikTok’s conduct thinking we’re going to cut a technical construct they’re not going to find a way around.”
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States is a multi-agency government body tasked with reviewing business deals involving foreign ownership. It has spent months negotiating with TikTok on a proposal to resolve concerns that Chinese government authorities could seek to gain access to the data the video-sharing app holds on American citizens.
Earlier this year, the company said it moved its U.S user data to servers run by Oracle. However, concerns have persisted over whether China-based TikTok employees (or staffers at parent company ByteDance) will still be able to access that information. In September, those bipartisan fears were raised again raised when the social media company declined to commit to cutting off data flows to China when questioned by U.S lawmakers.
Now, the concern is that TikTok could be used to secretly influence politics as more than 200 million people have downloaded the app in the United States. As a result, the Chinese-owned company is currently in negotiations with CFIUS about parent company ByteDance divesting so that an American firm can run the app locally.
Addressing the potential ban, a TikTok spokesperson told CNN that Commissioner Carr has no direct knowledge of the confidential discussions with the U.S government related to the social media company. Therefore he is not in a position to discuss what those negotiations entail. “We are confident that we are on a path to reaching an agreement that will satisfy all reasonable national security concerns,” the representative told the publication.
Interestingly, Carr has acknowledged that as an FCC official his capacity to regulate TikTok is limited and that the CFIUS may have greater legal authority over the company. But he says his call for the ban reflects a “natural progression” in his thinking which is informed by his agency’s work to limit China’s influence in US telecommunications networks.
He added that the country is looking at possible nefarious data flows through TikTok, and he is simply highlighting the terms of the issue. So far, the Federal Communications Commission has taken several steps to block or ban Chinese-affiliated telecom companies from selling equipment or services in the country since they may be compelled to reveal the data they hold to the Chinese government.
Although the FCC cannot regulate TikTok directly, Carr’s November 2021 warnings about Chinese telecom companies like Huawei resulted in Congress passing a bill requiring the Commission to secure telecommunications systems against potential foreign threats to national security, The Wrap reports.