Brendan Carr, a member of the Federal Communications Commission, thinks that the US government should ban the social media app Tiktok instead of making a deal with it about national security that would let it keep running in the US.
Carr told CNN in a phone interview Tuesday that a string of news reports this year about Tiktok’s handling of US user data has left him with “little confidence there’s a path forward.” “Perhaps the deal Cfius ends up cutting is an amazing, airtight deal, but looking at Tiktok’s behavior, I have a very, very difficult time thinking we’re going to cut a technical construct that they won’t find a way around.”
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which is a group of government agencies with the job of reviewing business deals involving foreign ownership, has been working with Tiktok for months on a plan to ease worries that the Chinese government might try to get access to the information Tiktok has on US citizens.
This year, the company announced that it had moved its US user data to Oracle servers, but questions remain about whether Tiktok or its parent, Bytedance, will still have access to that information. Concerns about these issues were brought up again in September, when Tiktok refused to say that it would stop sending data to China after Congress asked it to.
“Commissioner Carr Has No Role In Or Direct Knowledge Of The Tiktok Confidential Discussions With The United States Government And Is Not In A Position To Discuss What Those Negotiations Entail.” A Tiktok spokesperson told CNN in a statement. “We are confident that we are on track to reach an agreement with the United States government that will address all reasonable national security concerns.”
Carr told Cnn from Taiwan, where he was on the first-ever trip by an FCC official to that country, that he has not specifically brought up the issue with CFIUS member agencies or the White House. However, he added that it could have come up in the course of other routine talks.
Axios was the first to report on Carr’s request to ban Tiktok. His comments add to his previous requests that Apple and Google remove Tiktok from their app stores.
Carr said that as an FCC official, he has limited power to regulate Tiktok. He said that CFIUS, the Commerce Department, or the Federal Trade Commission may have more legal power over the company.
Nonetheless, Carr stated that his call for a Tiktok ban reflects a “natural progression in my thinking” and is informed by his own agency’s work to limit China’s influence in US telecommunications networks. The FCC has taken many steps to stop Chinese telecom companies from selling equipment or services in the US.
This is because there are rumours that these companies could be forced to give the Chinese government information about US communications.
“For me, this is taking what I’ve learned in the Huawei, ZTE, and China Mobile contexts, where we’re looking at potentially nefarious data flows, and bringing it to bear in terms of this issue,” Carr said.
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