FCC’s Carr Renews Call for a National Security Ban on TikTok

Brendan Carr, a commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, is continuing his efforts to have TikTok banned, telling the Council on Foreign Investment in the U.S. in his strongest language to date that the viral short-form video app is, as a result of consumer adoption, becoming a part of the nation’s critical information infrastructure, and thus presents a national security risk due to Chinese ownership. TikTok is reportedly back in negotiations with the CFIUS, an interagency committee that reviews foreign investment, about a change of ownership that would smooth the path to ongoing U.S. operations.

According to Axios, Carr said “I don’t believe there is a path forward for anything other than a ban,” in what seems to be an attempt to halt any negotiations. TikTok countered in a statement to Axios saying “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.”

While the FCC doesn’t have any direct regulatory authority over TikTok, Carr’s complaints contributed to the Trump administration’s involvement in attempting to broker a TikTok sale to Microsoft or Oracle in 2020. Early this year, the Commerce Department under President Biden began talking about TikTok as a security risk, and Carr in June renewed his calls for ban, all of which landed TikTok in the hot seat at a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing.

The New York Times reported in September that a deal was taking shape but not yet in its final form and that Department of Justice official Lisa Monaco was concerned the deal did not provide sufficient insulation from Beijing,” Axios writes, noting that “a Republican-controlled Congress could try to scrap any deal viewed as too easy on China.”

Reports including an explosive article in BuzzFeed News challenged TikTok’s claims that it is not subject to Chinese government pressures. In July, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew assured Congress his company keeps U.S. user data safe by storing it offshore. Axios quotes Carr saying “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].’”

CNBC writes that news of Carr’s most recent outcry sent other social media stock shares up, with Snap gaining 3.4 percent and Meta rising 2.2 percent on Tuesday.

TikTok Tells European Users Its Staff in China Get Access to Their Data, The Guardian, 11/2/22

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