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US gov’t should ban TikTok, FCC commissioner says

The popular social media app TikTok. (Dreamstime/TNS)
November 01, 2022

TikTok has no path forward in the U.S. except for a complete ban, an FCC commissioner recently said, even as officials negotiate to resolve national security risks posed by the social media giant’s Chinese ownership.

The popular social media app should be banned because its China-based owner, ByteDance, can’t be trusted under any circumstances not to leak user data to the Chinese Communist Party, Brendan Carr, one of five members on the Federal Communications Commission, told Axios.

But the FCC itself can’t ban TikTok. Instead, Carr said it should be banned by the Committee on Foreign Investment, a group of federal agencies that is currently negotiating a way for TikTok to stay in the U.S. that doesn’t require ByteDance to sell the valuable asset, as reported by the New York Times.

Previous statements from Carr about the risks posed by telecommunications gear from Chinese-owned Huawei preceded legislation blocking the FCC from purchasing it, Axios reported.

TikTok’s explosive growth in recent years has been met with warnings that it could be used as a window for Chinese surveillance and influence. Even as the app has become a powerful cultural force with more than 1 billion users, politicians have wrangled over whether it should be allowed in the U.S. at all.

ByteDance has said U.S. user data is safe, but recent reporting found that the company made plans to track two U.S. citizens’ locations using TikTok data. Last month, TikTok’s chief operating officer dodged a senator’s questions about whether CCP members have been able to access U.S. user data.

In a statement to Axios, a TikTok spokesperson said Carr has “no role” in its confidential talks, and the company is “confident that we are on a path to reaching an agreement with the U.S. government that will satisfy all reasonable national security concerns.”

The spokesperson also said TikTok would support a national data privacy law that applied to all companies.