FCC Commissioner Urges US Government To Ban TikTok, Citing Data Concerns

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Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr is calling for TikTok to be banned in the United States. In an interview with Axios, Carr spoke about how he believes that data from US TikTok Users is being sent to China. TikTok is owned by Chinese company ByteDance. He also believes that there is a significant risk that the platform can be used to influence political discourse. Carr has been active in trying to remove TikTok from the US. In June, he wrote letters to Google & Apple to try to get TikTok removed from app stores. 

Carr stated, “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].” He also believes that there’s no path forward for “anything other than a ban.”

TikTok has refuted allegations of data-sharing with China. A TikTok representative responded to the comments from Carr in a statement to Axios, “Commissioner Carr has no role in the confidential discussions with the U.S. government related to TikTok and appears to be expressing views independent of his role as an FCC commissioner. We are confident that we are on a path to reaching an agreement with the U.S. Government that will satisfy all reasonable national security concerns.”

CNN reported in September that TikTok Chief Operating Officer Vanessa Pappas testified before the Senate Homeland Security Committee. Pappas said in the testimony that TikTok would not under any circumstances give any data to China and that TikTok does not operate in China.

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“Again, we take this incredibly seriously in terms of upholding trust with US citizens and ensuring the safety of US user data,” Pappas said, responding to a BuzzFeed article reporting that TikTok US User Data has been accessed by China before. “As it relates to access and controls, we are going to be going above and beyond in leading initiative efforts with our partner, Oracle, and also to the satisfaction of the US government through our work with [the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States], which we do hope to share more information on.”

TikTok is currently in talks with Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States to determine if Bytedance can divest the app to an American company so it can remain in operation in the US. The New York Times reported in September that a deal is forming to make this happen but has significant scrutiny by Department of Justice official Lisa Monaco who believes that the deal did not insulate Bejing enough.

The FCC doesn’t have regulatory power over TikTok and Congress has not enacted a ban on the social video service. However, Congress did act when Carr raised concerns about Chinese Telecom companies last year. Last November, President Joe Biden signed a bill that requires the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to secure telecommunications systems against potential foreign threats to national security.

 

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