The Federal Communication Commission’s Brendan Carr rattled the social media world Tuesday when he outright called for a ban on Communist Chinese-based platform Tiktok.
In an Axios interview, the commissioner flatly stated that he does not believe “there is a path forward for anything other than a ban” of the wildly popular social media app. Carr is one of five members of the powerful board that oversees U.S. communications.
He declared that the Council on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) should prohibit the social media platform. CFIUS is an interagency committee that reviews national security concerns dealing with foreign companies.
TikTok’s parent company ByteDance is in the process of working out a new agreement with CFIUS on how it uses data gleaned from U.S. users.
Part of the talks center on whether that stored data may end up with the Chinese Communist Party.
— The Hill (@thehill) November 1, 2022
They also concern whether the company may be divested by ByteDance and moved to an American firm that would oversee its workings.
This possibility hardly satisfied Carr, who said that there is not a scenario where the arrangement would have “sufficient protection on the data” that would result in confidence that it would not be in “the hands of the CCP.”
There have been over 200 million downloads of TikTok in the U.S. alone, and Carr already approached both Apple and Google about removing the app from the App Store and Google Play.
He concedes that the FCC has no authority to regulate TikTok directly, but Congress previously responded to Carr’s concerns over other Chinese tech companies, including the controversial Huawei.
In August 2020, then-President Donald Trump told reporters on Air Force One that his administration was banning TikTok from the U.S. This, however, met with a firestorm of criticism and legal challenges that ultimately led to the platform engaging in talks with Microsoft.
That fell through, along with another round of conversations with Oracle. Now, under a Democratic administration, alarm bells are sounding once again about TikTok’s tight relationship with Chinese communists.
The anticipated Republican congressional gains next week will almost certainly put enhanced scrutiny on the security risks posed by TikTok. It cannot come too soon.