After setting their foot inside the United States, TikTok has gained massive popularity in the past 5-6 years.
Now citing the national security concern, FCC commissioner has called on the CEOs of Google and Apple to remove TikTok from their app stores. According to the report, the video app popular among American youth, is harvesting “swaths of sensitive data” that is being accessed by Beijing on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party.
In a letter dated June 24, Brendan Carr, the commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, warned Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook and Alphabet Inc. and Google LLC CEO Sundar Pichai of “an alarming new report” that shed fresh light on “serious national security threats posed by TikTok.”
“TikTok is not what it appears to be on the surface. It is not just an app for sharing funning videos or memes. That’s the sheep’s clothing,” Carr wrote. “At its core, TikTok functions as a sophisticated surveillance tool that harvests extensive amounts of personal and sensitive data.”
TikTok, available to millions of Americans through Apple and Google online stores, is owned by the Beijing-based company ByteDance, an organization that Carr asserts is “behold to the Communist Party of China and required by Chinese law to comply with the PRC’s surveillance demands.”
To back up his claim that ByteDance officials in Beijing have regularly viewed the data obtained from Americans who downloaded TikTok from Apple and Google app stores, Carr cited a fresh article by BuzzFeed News based on hacked audio.
It collects large amounts of private information, which, according to recent claims, has been accessed in Beijing. TikTok’s history of sneaky data collection techniques has led me to request that Apple and Google ban it from their app stores. TikTok users upload more than just dance videos. Text, photos, and videos copied to the clipboard are also gathered along with search and browser history, keyboard patterns, biometric identifiers, draught messages, and metadata.
U.S. military and national security agencies have banned Tiktok from government devices due to the app’s history of false claims and its ownership by a company with ties to the CCP.
Numerous provisions of Apple’s & Google’s policies are relevant to TikTok’s pattern of surreptitious data harvesting—a pattern that runs contrary to its public representations.
And there’s plenty of precedent for holding TikTok accountable by booting it from these app stores.
Researchers argue TikTok’s faceprints and voiceprints may be utilised in unrelated facial recognition technology, and the letter states that the app gathers all of this data along with search and browsing history, keystroke patterns, and more. The software also collects location data, draught messages, metadata, and the text, photographs and videos stored on a device’s clipboard.
Moreover, “the list of personal and sensitive data it collects continues on from there,” Carr stated. That’s hardly a big surprise, though. Within its own borders, the PRC has built some of the most invasive and omnipresent monitoring tools in the world to maintain totalitarian control.”
The letter, which Carr tweeted on Tuesday, claims that approximately 19 million copies of TikTok were downloaded in the United States from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store in the first three months of this year.
Carr emailed Google’s Tim Cook and Sundar Pichai, saying, “It is evident that TikTok constitutes an unacceptable national security risk owing to its vast data collecting and Beijing’s presumably unregulated access to that sensitive material.” TikTok is not in compliance with the policies that both your companies require every app to adhere to in order to remain available on your app stores, as evidenced by its “pattern of conduct and misrepresentations” regarding the unrestricted access that persons in Beijing have to sensitive U.S. user data, as detailed below.
China is upset that the United States has included Chinese e-commerce firms on its list of “notorious markets.”
If they do not remove the app, Carr requested a response letter by July 8 “explaining the case for your company’s conclusion that the surreptitious access of private and sensitive U.S. user data by persons located in Beijing, coupled with TikTok’s pattern of misleading representations and conduct, does not run afoul of any of your app store policies.”
The letter emphasises how India, the world’s largest democracy, has banned TikTok on national security grounds. Multiple branches of the U.S. military have likewise banned TikTok from government-issued devices and have instructed troops and their families to uninstall the app from their personal phones.
The RNC and DNC have warned campaigns about using TikTok based on security concerns, while U.S. private sector operations have banned TikTok from company devices, including Wells Fargo.