Is TikTok Getting Banned? FCC Commissioner urges immediate shutdown in the US amid growing national security concerns.
Brendan Carr, one of five commissioners at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), urges the Council on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS) to take action to ban TikTok in his most aggressive call against the service yet. With over 200 million downloads in the US alone, the app is becoming a form of critical information infrastructure, making its ownership by a Chinese parent company an issue of growing national security concern.
While the FCC has no direct authority to regulate TikTok, Congress has taken action against Chinese telecom companies in the past after Carr voiced concerns, namely Huawei. But TikTok is currently undergoing negotiations with CFIUS (the interagency committee responsible for conducting national security reviews of foreign companies’ deals) to determine whether Chinese parent company ByteDance can divest ownership to an American company to remain operational in the US.
“I don’t believe there is a path forward for anything other than a ban,” says Carr in a recent interview with Axios, citing recent revelations surrounding TikTok and ByteDance’s handling of US user data. “(There 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 government).”
In June, Carr sent letters to both Apple and Google, urging the companies to remove TikTok from their app stores due to concerns about the data flow to China. Carr has highlighted concerns about US data being manipulated by a state actor using TikTok to influence political processes in the US covertly. So is TikTok getting banned? Not yet.
“Commissioner Carr has no role in the confidential discussions with the US government related to TikTok and appears to be expressing views independent of his role as an FCC commissioner,” says a TikTok spokesperson in a statement to Axios. “We are confident that we are on a path to reaching an agreement with the US Government that will satisfy all reasonable national security concerns.”
“This is not something you would normally hear me say, but Donald Trump was right on TikTok years ago,” Democratic Senator Mark Warner said last week. “If your country uses Huawei, if your kids are on TikTok (…), the ability for China to have undue influence is a much greater challenge and a much more immediate threat than any kind of actual, armed conflict.”