A commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is not mincing words, and in the wake of a new report from the federal agency, is now calling for the U.S. government to ban TikTok, a hugely popular social media platform with Chinese Communist Party connections.
Published by Axios on Tuesday, the new interview with Brendan Carr features “the strongest language Carr has used to date to urge action on TikTok.”
The Council on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) should take action to ban TikTok, Brendan Carr, one of five commissioners at the Federal Communications Commission, told Axios in an interview.
“I don’t believe there is a path forward for anything other than a ban,” Carr said, citing recent revelations about how TikTok and ByteDance handle U.S. user data.
His remarks come as the company seeks a new agreement with the U.S./CFIUS on how it handles data — and whether a risk remains that content stored by the company could flow into CCP hands.
TikTok is currently in negotiations with CFIUS, an interagency committee that conducts national security reviews of foreign companies’ deals, to determine whether it can be divested by Chinese parent company ByteDance to an American company and remain operational in the United States.
With more than 200 million downloads in the U.S. alone, the popular app is becoming a form of critical information infrastructure — making the app’s ownership by [ByteDance] a target of growing national security concern.
- There simply isn’t “a world in which you could come up with sufficient protection on the data that you could have sufficient confidence that it’s not finding its way back into the hands of the [Chinese Communist Party],” Carr said.
Axios notes that Carr has waved red flags before about the company, including asking both Apple and Google to stop offering the app for download on their highly-influential App Store and Google Play sites.
While it’s unclear how the negotiations between CFIUS and TikTok will be resolved, this good news of someone urging action is tempered with the realities of the moment:
The FCC has no authority to regulate TikTok directly, but Congress previously acted after Carr voiced concerns about Chinese telecom companies, including Huawei.
Readers may remember back in August 2020 when then-President Donald Trump and his administration sought to ban TikTok, while also citing the potential dangers of the CCP gaining improper access to sensitive U.S. data, when Microsoft announced it was in negotiations to purchase the platform.
“As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One.
The administration eventually was forced to cede to Microsoft’s wish to proceed with talking with ByteDance, as I wrote, but the deal ended up being scrapped by Microsoft in September 2020. Oracle was also in the mix for possibly acquiring TikTok, but that also fell through.
All of this just provides more reason to hope the Republicans can take back control of Congress in the midterms–and have a chance of getting this issue over a weak link in our national security finally squared away.