Federal communication officials urged the U.S. government Tuesday to ban the video-sharing app TikTok in a plea to protect the private data of American citizens.
Brendan Carr, one of five commissioners for the Federal Communications Commission, told Axios the federal agency could not regulate the social media app and that the data flow back to Beijing and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Chinese tech giant ByteDance owns TikTok, which currently has more than 200 million downloads in the United States — and according to Fox Business, the company must share its data with the CCP upon request, as required by law.
“I don’t believe there is a path forward for anything other than a ban,” Carr said, adding that there 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].”
The U.S. Council on Foreign Investment recently launched an investigation into TikTok regarding whether the app could divest from ByteDance and allow it to operate in the U.S., which former President Trump had suggested while in office. The investigation came after China reportedly planned to use the platform to track the location of specific American citizens.
TikTok officials responded to the FCC in a statement to Axios, affirmed the company remains confident that it’s on a path to reaching an agreement regarding national security concerns with the federal government.
“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,” a TikTok spokesperson told Axios.
Leaked audio obtained by BuzzFeed News in June revealed that China had accessed U.S. TikTok user data for months while U.S. employees did not have access themselves. The audio covered more than 80 internal meetings at the social media company between September 2021 and January 2022.
Former President Trump signed an executive order before leaving office that banned the app from the U.S. in 2020. However, the Biden administration reversed the order and called for a security review of the app.
U.S. politicians have shown heavy disapproval for the video-sharing platform due to its ties with the Chinese government — with even Democrats admitting Trump was right to sign the previous executive order.
“This is not something you would normally hear me say, but Donald Trump was right on TikTok years ago,” Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) said last week, according to Axios. “If your country uses Huawei, if your kids are on TikTok … the ability for China to have undue influence is a much greater challenge and a much more immediate threat than any kind of actual, armed conflict.”