FCC commissioner requests TikTok be removed from app stores for ‘surreptitious data practices’

Ranking Republican FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr has written a letter to the CEOs of Apple and Google to request they remove the TikTok app from their stores, accusing the popular video platform of effectively being a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

“TikTok is not just another video app. That’s the sheep’s clothing,” he tweeted. “It harvests swaths of sensitive data that new reports show are being accessed in Beijing.”

The letter, addressed to CEOs Tim Cook and Sundar Pichai, outlined Carr’s concerns about the app and recent information released about their questionable uses of personal data.

“Last week, an alarming new report shed fresh light on the serious national security threats posed by Tiktok. As you know, TikTok is an app that is available to millions of Americans through your app stores, and it collects vast troves of sensitive data about those U.S. users,” he explained. “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.”

Then he addressed last week’s leaked information indicating that China has repeatedly accessed the private data of Unites States TikTok users.

“Through leaked audio recording, last week’s Buzzfeed News report revealed that ByteDance officials in Beijing have repeatedly access the sensitive data that TikTok has collected from Americans after those U.S. users downloaded the app through your app stores,” he explained, keeping the pressure on Google and Apple for making the app available to users.

“‘Everything is seen in China,’ a TikTok official said in the recordings, despite the fact that TikTok has repeatedly represented that the data it gathers about American is stored in the United States.”

He went on to request the app be removed from the stores to deny China the ability to collect more information on American users, even citing a previous instance where apps were removed to protect user safety.

“There is ample precedent for removing Tiktok from the app stores too. in 2018, for instance, Apple removed an app titled Adware Doctor from the Mac App Store because it collected user data and sent it to a server located in China without user consent. Similarly, Google recently pulled dozens of apps from the Google Play Store after concluding that they used a software element that surreptitiously harvested data,” he recalled.

“Moreover, Apple and Google have long claimed to operate their app stories in a manner that protects consumer privace and safeguards their data. Therefore, I am requesting that you apply your app store policies to TikTok and remove it from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for failing to comply with these policies,” he concluded.

It remains to be seen whether Cook and Pichai will do as Carr recommends, or continue to offer access to the app despite the serious security concerns outlined in the letter.


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