FCC Commissioner Calls Google and Apple To Ban TikTok

The United States Federal Communications Commission commissioner has requested that Apple and Google remove TikTok from their app stores, citing national security concerns about TikTok’s Chinese-based parent company, ByteDance.

China Access To User Data

Brendan Carr, the FTC commissioner, referenced a BuzzFeed News report claiming that China had complete access to user data.

According to leaked audio from TikTok internal meetings, China might access all user data from September 2021 until January 2022. The time is significant because TikTok officials testified in October 2021 that who has access is decided by a U.S. security team.

In light of this, Mr. Carr wrote to Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, and Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, urging that TikTok be removed from their respective app stores. 

The letter stated that TikTok is out of compliance with Apple and Google’s terms and policies.

The commissioner wrote:

“Last week, an alarming new report shed fresh light on the serious national security threats posed by TikTok.

…TikTok is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance – an organization that is beholden to the Communist Party of China and required by Chinese law to comply with the PRC’s surveillance demands.

It is clear that TikTok poses an unacceptable national security risk due to its extensive data harvesting being combined with Beijing’s apparently unchecked access to that sensitive data.

…Therefore, I am requesting that you apply the plain text of your app store policies to TikTok and remove it from your app stores for failure to abide by those terms.”

The FCC commissioner tweeted:

TikTok collects data such as search and browser histories, keyboard patterns, biometric identifiers, draft messages, and metadata, according to Brendan Carr.

Furthermore, it collects data from the device’s clipboard, which includes text, photos, and videos. As Carr points out, several of Apple’s and Google’s regulations are applicable to TikTok’s trend of shady data. Carr gives the two tech giants a July 8th deadline for its removal.

TikTok has grown in popularity in recent years by letting users to make short videos, edit them with music and visual effects, stream live, and interact with others all with the tap of a smartphone. Its features and business strategy are comparable to those of Facebook’s Instagram. TikTok users can view, post, and interact with videos for free, while the company profits from advertisements.

Spokespersons for Apple and Google did not respond to requests for comment on whether they will remove the app.

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