A hot potato: Expressing a bipartisan concern about China surveillance on US citizens, FCC commissioner Brendan Carr wants a national ban against the TikTok app. However, TikTok is not giving in and is still looking forward to an agreement with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).
Brendan Carr, a lawyer currently serving as a commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), has returned to his favorite sport: bashing TikTok and calling for a tighter control on the Chinese-controlled app by the US government. At this point, Carr said, there is very little confidence about the company’s ability to properly handle US users’ data.
Carr was appointed as a member of the FCC by Donald Trump in 2017, and he has been a vocal critic of the data collecting app for a while. In the commissioner’s own words, TikTok isn’t “just another video app” but “a sophisticated surveillance tool that harvests extensive amounts of personal and sensitive data” with direct connections to Beijing’s communist dictatorship.
A few months ago, Carr asked Google and Apple to remove TikTok from their respective app stores; in a new interview with CNN, the commissioner is now calling for a nationwide ban despite the efforts made by both parties – the US government and TikTok – to come to an agreement.
ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, is currently negotiating with the CFIUS a proposal that should ease any concern about the Chinese government authorities’ access to TikTok data relating to US citizens. The company has supposedly migrated all such data to servers run by Oracle, but there’s still a bipartisan opinion about the fundamentally Orwellian nature of the app.
According to Carr, even the best deal cut by the CFIUS wouldn’t be enough; at this point “I have a very, very difficult time looking at TikTok’s conduct thinking we’re going to cut a technical construct that they’re not going to find a way around,” Carr said.
The new position expressed by Carr reflects a “natural progression” in his thinking about TikTok, and it is apparently informed by the FCC’s own work to limit China’s influence in US telecommunications networks. On the other hand, TikTok remains confident about a satisfying agreement with Washington. “Commissioner Carr has no role in or direct knowledge of the confidential discussions with the US government related to TikTok,” the company remarked, “and he is not in a position to discuss what those negotiations entail.”