US FCC Commissioner Asks Apple And Google To Remove TikTok From App Stores

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A US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) commissioner has again called for Apple and Google to launch the popular video-sharing platform TikTok from their app stores, citing “the pattern of covert data practices” .

“Clearly TikTok is an unacceptable” national security risk because the extensive data collection is combined with Beijing’s seemingly uncontrolled access to that sensitive data,” said Brendan Carr, a Republican member of the FCC, wrote in a letter to the CEOs of Apple and Google.

TikTok, in September 2021, revealed that one billion people use its app every month, making it one of the largest social media platforms after Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, Instagram, and WeChat.

Carr went on to emphasize that the short video service is far from just an app for sharing funny videos or memes, with its features being referred to as “sheep clothing,” intended for its core function as an “advanced surveillance tool” for gathering users’ personal data. to mask. information.

The letter also references a litany of controversies TikTok has found itself in over the years, including: Bypass Android Protections to track users online, access to iOS clipboard information, and settle a class-action lawsuit for $92 million over allegations that it stole biometric and personal data from users in the US without prior consent.

TikTok, which is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance and has denied ever sharing user data with the Chinese government, is back in the spotlight after revelations of BuzzFeed News that US users’ data had been repeatedly consulted by employees in China between September 2021 and January 2022, despite its assurances to the contrary.

“Everything is seen in China,” a member of TikTok’s Trust and Safety department said at a meeting in September 2021, while a director in another meeting that month called an engineer from Beijing a “Master Admin” who “has access to everything.”

Last year, CNBC, referring to former employees, in the same way so-called that the Chinese parent company of the social media app had access to TikTok’s US user data and is closely involved in decision-making and product development.

In a statement shared with the business news publication, TikTok said technicians in locations outside the US, including China, can access US user data on an “on-demand” basis under strict access controls.

TikTok has been since announced that it has “changed the default storage location of US user data” and that it routes all of its users’ information in the country through Oracle’s managed infrastructure. Carr noted, however, that these efforts do not address the core issues of data access.

“TikTok has long claimed that its US user data is stored on servers in the US and yet those statements did not protect against access to the data from Beijing.” said Carr. “Indeed, TikTok’s statement that ‘100% of US user traffic is routed to Oracle’ says nothing about where that data might come from.”

It’s worth noting that several US military branches have already banned their members from using TikTok on government-issued devices due to potential security risks. In June 2020, the Indian government moved to block the app on similar grounds.