FCC commissioner Brendan Carr said that India set an “incredibly important precedent” by banning TikTok two and a half years ago, adding that the move will act as a ‘guide star’ for other countries.
Banning TikTok next step for FCC
Carr said that implying that banning TikTok is a natural next step in the FCC’s efforts to secure communication networks. His comments come amid an increasing crackdown on TikTok by the US government, which is increasingly growing cautious of the app.
TikTok has amassed over 100 million users in the US.
“…It (TikTok) operates as a sophisticated surveillance tool and that presents a serious national security threat. All of the sensitive and non-public data is going to Beijing and could be used for blackmail, espionage, foreign influence campaigns and surveillance. That’s a nightmare scenario,” he was quoted as saying by the Economic Times.
The Federal Communications Commission is an independent agency of the United States federal government that regulates communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable across the United States.
He said that the US needs to follow India’s lead more broadly to weed out other nefarious apps as well.
India banned hundreds of apps
India banned hundreds of apps, including TikTok, PUBG Mobile, Battlegrounds Mobile India and UC Browser in the past two years following skirmishes between the forces of India and China at the border of the two neighbouring nations.
TikTok had more than 200 million users in India at the time.
The Indian government had then said that these apps posed threats to the “national security and defence of India, which ultimately impinges upon the sovereignty and integrity of India.”
While TikTok is the primary focus at the moment, there is a need for “a more holistic approach like India’s” eventually, according to the FCC Commissioner.
The White House, Homeland Security and State and Defense Departments in the US have already banned TikTok. At least 20 of the 50 US states have banned TikTok on state government devices, with the number due to increase in 2023.
Senator Marco Rubio had in December introduced a bipartisan bill seeking an outright ban on the short video app in both houses of Congress.
Recently, ByteDance released the results of an internal investigation confirming that four of its employees in China scooped up the data of two TikTok accounts belonging to US journalists.
Notably, Taiwan recently moved to ban it from public devices, while there are calls to ban TikTok in Australia.
“India’s strong leadership has been informative and helpful as we have debated banning TikTok in the US…for those who argue that there is no way to ban an app, India is an example of a country that has done it and done it successfully,” Carr told the publication. “If you look at the history of TikTok’s malign data flows and its misleading representations, I don’t see a path forward for anything other than a blanket ban working.”