An FCC commissioner has called on both Apple and Google to delete TikTok from their respective app stores, giving the companies until July 8 to respond. It is not clear what measures the Federal Communications Commission might take if the companies do not comply.
In 2020, the outgoing president declared that TikTok would be prohibited in the US unless it was purchased by an American business. A short deadline was mentioned, but it was discreetly ignored after being extended thrice.
Although experts said this was only vaguely true, the previous administration claimed the app posed a threat to national security.
FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr wrote a two-page open letter to Apple and Google, calling on them to remove the app from the App Store and Google Play.
TikTok is described in the letter as a “sophisticated monitoring tool” for the Chinese government rather than a video-sharing software.
According to audio obtained by BuzzFeed News earlier this month, ByteDance, the Beijing-based business that created TikTok, has Chinese employees who have “repeatedly accessed nonpublic data” from American users.
The Letter states that,
“TikTok is not what it appears to be on the surface. It is not just an app for sharing funny videos or memes. That’s the sheep’s clothing. At its core, TikTok functions as a sophisticated surveillance tool that harvests extensive amounts of personal and sensitive data.
Indeed, TikTok collects everything from search and browsing histories to keystroke patterns and biometric identifiers, including faceprints-which researchers have said might be used in unrelated facial recognition technology–and voiceprints. It collects location data as well as draft messages and metadata, plus it has collected the text, images, and videos that are stored on a device’s clipboard.
The list of personal and sensitive data it collects goes on from there. This should come as no surprise, however. Within its own borders, the PRC has developed some of the most invasive and omnipresent surveillance capabilities in the world to maintain authoritarian control.”
The letter also says that even if the two tech giants aren’t convinced by the claims made about how the app is used by China, they should delete TikTok because it violates App Store guidelines.
“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. But it is also clear that TikTok’s pattern of conduct and misrepresentations regarding the unfettered access that persons in Beijing have to sensitive U.S. user data-just some of which is detailed below puts it out of compliance with the policies that both of your companies require every app to adhere to as a condition of remaining available on your app stores. 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.”
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
Watch it here: Youtube/NBC News