FCC Commissioner requests Apple and Google to ban TikTok
Here again, the concerns are for personal data of US citizens, allegedly collected by the crazy-popular social media app, and the fact that said app is headquartered in China. According to Carr, new reports have shown that sensitive data is being accessed in Beijing. He even goes on to call TikTok a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The article that the senior Republican Commissioner is referencing in his letter is a recently published BuzzFeed News report, which claims leaked audio from 80 internal TikTok meetings indicates that China-based employees of ByteDance (TikTok’s parent company) have accessed private information on users in the US.
Reportedly, a member of TikTok’s Trust and Safety department said in September 2021 that “everything is seen in China”. Curiously enough, hours after this BuzzFeed News report has been published, TikTok announced that all US user traffic is now migrated to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure and is accessed only in the States.
However, it seems Carr was definitely not mesmerized by the China-based social media platform’s effort to address concerns over data. In his letter, he also listed other reports that showed “concerning evidence and determinations regarding TikTok’s data practices”. Among those, there were reports where researchers discovered that TikTok could bypass Android and iOS safeguards to access users’ sensitive data.
TikTok is not just another video app.
That’s the sheep’s clothing.
It harvests swaths of sensitive data that new reports show are being accessed in Beijing.
— Brendan Carr (@BrendanCarrFCC) June 28, 2022
He underlines in the letter to Cook and Pichai that TikTok is an “unacceptable national security risk”, and its extensive data harvesting with Beijing’s involvement in checking the sensitive data is something the Commissioner is very unhappy with.
He lists the following data that TikTok is reportedly collecting: search and browsing histories, keystroke patterns, biometric identifiers, draft messages and metadata, text, images, and videos stored on a device’s clipboard.
In his letter, he gives the two tech giants until July 8th to provide an explanation why TikTok is still in their stores (in case they don’t remove it). It seems that no other FCC Commissioners are involved in this letter.