A Republican FCC Commissioner has celebrated Taiwan’s decision to ban China’s TikTok and other Chinese software from government devices and platforms.

Commissioner Brendan Carr on Twitter congratulated his counterparts at Taiwan’s Ministry of Digital Affairs over their decision to ban Chinese software and services for the public sector, on national security grounds.

According to Taiwan news, Taiwan has banned TikTok from public sector communications devices as it has been listed as a product that endangers national information and communication security.

Facebook Reels

National security

Last week the FBI warned that TikTok presents national security concerns for the US as the Chinese government may have the capability to manipulate its recommendation algorithm, “which allows them to manipulate content, and if they want to, to use it for influence operations.”

FBI Director Chris Wray, according to the Associated Press, warned that control of the popular video sharing app is in the hands of a Chinese government “that doesn’t share our values.”

“All of these things are in the hands of a government that doesn’t share our values, and that has a mission that’s very much at odds with what’s in the best interests of the United States. That should concern us,” Wray told an audience at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

In addition to that warning, the US state of South Dakota banned TikTok from government-owned devices citing threats to user data.

The US state of Maryland has also now followed suite.

Meanwhile South Carolina Republican Govenor Henry McMaster has this week asked the state’s Department of Administration to ban TikTok from all state government devices.

TikTok was banned on Nebraska state electronic devices in August 2020, and the US armed forces also prohibited the app on military devices.

Former US President Donald Trump actively tried to ban TikTok in the US, and even tried to force its sale to a US owned entity.

Taiwan ban

Republican FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr has been pressing for a ban on TikTok for a while now.

He visited Taiwan earlier this year and publicly flagged concerns about China’s cyber capabilities, and he has now praised Taiwan’s ban as “smart”.

The TikTok app is however still available for download for consumers in Taiwan.

TikTok denials

In October TikTok denied a media report that it had ‘targetted’ US citizens, and insisted it did not collect precise GPS location data.

TikTok is of course hugely popular among the young, but security worries have surrounded the platform for a while now.

In August a number of British MPs warned that TikTok data “is routinely transferred to China”, and the UK Parliament closed down its TikTok account, after just one week of operation.

China-based firms are legally obliged under the Chinese ‘2017 Intelligence Security law’ to hand over data to Beijing if requested.

TikTok has previously insisted it has never provided user data to the Chinese government, and its user data is stored in the US and Singapore – moving to Ireland in 2023 when its new data centre opens.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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