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FCC commissioner wants TikTok out of app stores for ‘data security’ concerns

By Ada Pelonia Published Jul 04, 2022 1:21 pm

A member of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) urged Google and Apple to ban TikTok from their app stores over data security concerns.  

 US FCC commissioner Brendan Carr tweeted a letter on Wednesday, June 29, calling on tech giants to remove the wildly popular short video app TikTok “for its pattern of surreptitious data practices,” citing an exclusive Buzzfeed News report where leaked recordings from TikTok employees showed US data was being repeatedly accessed from China. 

Carr claimed that TikTok is a “surveillance tool” that harvests extensive amounts of personal and sensitive data. He also stated that TikTok’s “pattern of conduct and misrepresentation regarding the unfettered access the persons in Beijing have to sensitive U.S. user data” was not apt to the policies that Google and Apple require their applications to abide as a condition to remain available in their respective app stores. 

Carr then requested Google and Apple to remove TikTok from Apple App Store and Google Play Store for failing to comply with those policies, giving the tech giants until July 8 to respond if they choose not to remove the said application.   

According to a CNN report, they had a rare interview with a TikTok executive on CNN's "Reliable Sources" on Sunday, July 3, where the executive claimed that “there are no security concerns” being linked to the short-form app that gained millions, if not more than a billion of users worldwide. 

CNN’s chief media correspondent Brian Stelter stated that since the Beijing-based ByteDance owns TikTok, the company is essentially under the control of the Chinese government. 

In another tweet, Carr stated that Tiktok actively "collects search and browsing histories, keystroke patterns, biometric identifiers, draft messages and metadata, plus it has collected the text, images, and videos that are stored on a device's clipboard."

In the same CNN report, Michael Beckerman, head of public policy, Americas, at TikTok stated that claims surrounding TikTok collecting browser history are “simply false” and added that despite the application scanning users’ faces for filters, it cannot be used to identify individuals. 

When Stelter asked if any Chinese Communist Party members has seen nonpublic TikTok user data, Beckerman responded by saying, "The answer is we have never shared information with the Chinese government, nor would we," further adding they have US-based security teams. 

Beckerman also denied TikTok being a security threat to the US and influencing Americans’ commercial, cultural or political behavior. 

The official TikTok account said it ensured that the app is safe and secure for the global community. The platform has created a safety center, in-app videos and more to help the community learn how they keep their data safe.