FCC Commissioner Declares TikTok a ‘Clear and Present Danger’ Ahead of Critical Congressional Vote

FCC TikTok danger
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FCC TikTok danger
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Photo Credit: Solen Feyissa

The FCC commissioner calls TikTok a “clear and present danger” and a “serious threat” to US national security, ahead of the critical congressional vote on legislation which could lead to a TikTok ban.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) commissioner Brendan Carr said in a recent interview that TikTok “presents a clear and present danger to US national security” in a categorically different way than any other social media company.

Among his many concerns, several of which he has cited previously, Carr claimed that users’ biometrics, browsing history, keystroke patterns, location data, and other sensitive information could already have been accessed “for nefarious purposes” in Beijing. Carr explained that the version of the app available in China differs significantly from the US version, which is “concerning” from both a foreign influence and espionage perspective.

“I’ve got my fair share of concerns with other big tech companies, but TikTok’s different,” said Carr, who added that if TikTok continues to be “beholden” to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), there is no way to be certain the company can be trusted to stop “bad actors” from accessing US user data.

“This bill will definitively resolve the serious national security threat from TikTok by requiring them to divest. We do that on occasion with other applications; we’ve done it successfully. So the actual technical […] implementation of it is less of a problem than getting this policy cut right,” Carr continued.

The commissioner has expressed his support for The Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, for which a classified briefing was held today (March 12). The act would require that TikTok be divested from the Beijing-based ByteDance, or other China-based companies, within 180 days.

Failure to do so will see the platform banned from US web hosting services and app stores. The impending congressional vote comes on the heels of the House Energy and Commerce Committee voting unanimously to pass the bill, for which President Biden has also voiced his support.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson from TikTok has told the media that the bill is “an outright ban of TikTok,no matter how much the authors try to disguise it,” claiming the legislation would violate Americans’ First Amendment rights. Carr argues that the legislation poses no First Amendment threat, as long as it focuses on TikTok’s “conduct” in the context of potential national security threats.