Because of TikTok’s “pattern of covert data practices,” one FCC commissioner wants to see it removed from the Apple and Google app stores. TikTok is a video app that is controlled by China.
In a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google/Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai that he sent last week, Brendan Carr cited “an alarming new report [that] sheds additional light on the major national security dangers posed by TikTok” and posted it on Twitter. Please read his letter here.
Carr penned the following in a tweet: “TikTok is not what it seems to be on the surface. It is more than just a platform for sharing amusing memes and videos. That is sheep’s clothes, though. TikTok is fundamentally a clever surveillance tool that gathers a ton of private and sensitive information.
I’ve urged Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores due to its history of sneaky data abuses, he continued.
The app “collects massive troves” of private information from its “millions” of American users, according to Carr’s letter.
He stated in the letter that “TikTok is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, an organization that is subordinate to the Communist Party of China and is obligated by Chinese legislation to abide by the PRC’s monitoring requests.” “Last week’s Buzzfeed News story revealed that ByteDance officials in Beijing frequently accessed the private information that TikTok had gathered from Americans when those Americans downloaded the app through various app shops. This was made known by leaked audio recordings. Despite TikTok’s repeated claims that the information it collects about Americans is stored in the United States, a TikTok official claimed in the tapes that “everything is seen in China.”
In the first quarter of this year alone, the app was downloaded “almost 19 million times” from the Google Play and Apple App Stores, according to Carr. In September, ByteDance reported that TikTok had more than 1 billion monthly active users worldwide.
TikTok’s architecture encourages sharing between applications, and its appealing blend of rapid editing, music, and creative expression helped it become popular among younger users. Several years after ByteDance was founded, it made its U.S. debut in 2017.
During Donald Trump’s presidency, TikTok was in serious water with the US government over the gathering of user data. His administration’s officials believed the app to be a security risk and a way for Chinese authorities to get private information from Americans.
Trump signed an executive order in 2020 requiring ByteDance to sell TikTok’s American operations to a company managed by Americans or face having its app deactivated. The bidder was a group that included Oracle and Walmart, but TikTok and ByteDance were victorious in their legal challenges against the executive order. President Joe Biden reversed Trump’s executive order a few months after taking office, saying instead that the White House was looking into possible national security issues with apps backed by China.
In a Senate hearing chaired by Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), executives from Snap Inc., the company that owns SnapChat, and TikTok CEO Michael Beckerman were questioned about their support for the Children and Teens’ Online Privacy Protection Act. The legislation would, among other things, limit the collection of personal information from teenagers and forbid platforms from gathering the data without the users’ informed consent.
At the hearing, TikTok’s Beckerman stated that although they “loved” the bill’s strategy, it should also include a better method of internet age verification.