Commissioner for the Federal Communications Commission Brendan Carr told MRC Free Speech America in an exclusive interview that “the tide is moving out on TikTok whether it’s in Europe or the U.S. and there’s really no amount of prevaricating and gaslighting that they can do at this point I think to avert that.”
Commissioner Carr responded to the results of a damning Malcore study released Feb. 13 from an automated analysis tool designed to assess social media apps’ code for data security risks. TikTok received the “worst” score compared to industry peers. The commissioner said that the new study affirms what many have known for a long time.
“I think this is just one piece of a broader set of issues that have been raised with TikTok and there just continues to be very serious bipartisan global concerns … about national security issues,” he said. “[T]his latest Malcore study, shows that contrary to TikTok’s representations, they do not collect data that is in a manner consistent with the sort of peer social media apps, and I think it’s troubling.”
The day after Malcore released its findings, the European Commission banned the app from government devices and networks; Canada did the same a few days later. The White House, and 29 states have also taken action against the app, according to Government Technology, a media outlet that has tracked U.S. restrictions on TikTok thus far.
The commissioner commented on the growing trend. “The actions that almost 30 states have taken is a very good step in the right direction,” he said. “They’re banning TikTok from state government devices. At the end of the day, though, we have to go much further than that, which is to address TikTok not just on government devices, which we’ve done on the federal level now, and … at the state level, but we need to address this nationwide, for everybody not just government devices.”
He noted, however, that the state bans offer a clear and powerful message to federal officials. “I think what the state actions signify – you’ve got Republican governors, Democrat governors – is this consensus on the solution.”
He noted that the laws show 29 “individual decisions” that both Republicans and Democrats decided “there is no mitigation measure that can be put in place to sufficiently address TikTok’s threat,” and “a ban of the device is really the only path forward.”
Carr also offered the public some hope that top federal officials are starting to wake up and voice their concerns. He noted that the Treasury department of the Biden Administration has “been studying this issue for roughly two years, and it’s sort of like that stage in addressing a problem which is step one is to admit you have a problem and step two is to do something about it,” he said. “I think the good news is that we have achieved step one.”
He noted that FBI Director Christopher Wray, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, Director of National Intelligence Averil Haines and CIA Director Bill Burns have each expressed concerns about TikTok. “All of these administration officials are coming forward and raising their hand and saying, ‘There’s a problem at TikTok,’” he said.
Commissioner Carr continued:
That’s great. That’s the first step, but at this point, we can’t simply acknowledge the problem and not take the appropriate action. That’s why it’s important for the federal government, for the Treasury Department to take step two, which is to move forward with either a nationwide ban of TikTok or some type of solution that involves a complete decoupling of TikTok from a corporate structure from any entity that is beholden to the CCP.
It appears that Congress is already beginning to take some action. In recent weeks, members of both the House and the Senate have introduced bills that would allow the Biden administration to restrict or ban Chinese apps that pose a national security risk like notoriously pro-censorship TikTok.
The Biden administration has had numerous communications with representatives from the communist Chinese government-tied app but whether the administration will ultimately take further action remains to be seen.
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