India set ‘incredibly important precedent’ by banning TikTok, says FCC commissioner
India set an “incredibly important precedent” by banning TikTok two and a half years ago, the FCC commissioner has said, as he predicted a similar fate for giant Chinese app Bytedance in the United States.
Brendan Carr, FCC commissioner, warned that TikTok “operates like a sophisticated surveillance tool” and told the Indian daily Economic Times that banning the social app is a “natural next step in our efforts to secure the communication network”.
The top Republican Federal Communications Commission official said he fears China could use sensitive, non-public data gleaned from TikTok for “blackmail, espionage, foreign influence campaigns and surveillance.”
“We need to follow India’s lead more broadly to weed out other bad apps as well,” he said.
Carr’s remarks further illustrate a growing push among US states and lawmakers that are increasingly cautious about TikTok, which has more than 100 million users in the country.
India has banned hundreds of apps, including TikTok, PUBG Mobile, Battlegrounds Mobile India and UC Browser, with Chinese affiliation over the past two years amid border skirmishes from the two neighboring countries.
New Delhi said it banned the apps because they posed threats to “India’s national security and defense, which ultimately infringes on India’s sovereignty and integrity.”
TikTok had more than 200 million monthly active users in India and counted the South Asian nation as its biggest international market by users before the ban.
“India’s strong leadership has been instructive and helpful as we debated the banning of TikTok in the United States,” Carr told the Indian newspaper (paywall). “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 has done it successfully.”
US House banned TikTok on all House-managed devices last week, citing “high risk due to a number of security issues.” The move followed nearly two dozen states at least partially blocking the app from state-run devices over fears China could use it to track Americans and censor content.
“If you look at TikTok’s history of malicious data feeds and its misleading depictions, I don’t see a way forward for anything other than a blanket ban that works,” he told the newspaper.