FCC requests Google and Apple to remove TikTok from app stores
On Tuesday, the American Federal Communications Commission wrote to tech behemoths Apple Inc. and Google. In the letter, it was demanded that the businesses take TikTok, a platform for short videos, out of their app stores. Such a request was passed along because the TikTok app was engaging in “a pattern of covert data activities.” BuzzFeed News has revealed that employees of TikTok parent company ByteDance have access to user data in the United States of America. This research went against TikTok’s claims that no US users’ data was accessible to users outside the US.
TikTok is a threat to American national security, according to Commissioner Brendan Carr in his letter to Sundar Pichai and Tim Cook. The owner of TikTok is Beijing-based ByteDance. And ByteDance is ostensibly compliant with Chinese law, giving the People’s Republic of China access to the TikTok data of millions of Americans. Beijing has unrestricted access to the personal information of millions of entertainment app users in the US.
Mr. Carr continued by claiming that the TikTok app was used to spy on US people as well as a venue for exchanging videos. He said that TikTok was gathering search history, biometric information, face prints, and other private and sensitive information. All of these gathered data are being sent to Beijing, where they will be exploited against the USA. He also listed many occasions in the letter where TikTok broke various laws and regulations pertaining to user privacy protection. The letter claims that TikTok hid several litigation and instances involving data access and misuse by using money and sway.
Additionally, TikTok gave false testimony during US Congress hearings, which was demonstrated last week when BuzzFeed News published a story about how Chinese users had access to US users’ data. He also mentioned studies and research on TikTok’s data consumption that was carried out by numerous groups and government entities. Soon after the BuzzFeed article was published, TikTok responded defensively by issuing a statement in which it pledged to ensure that all data collected by users from the United States will only be retained and accessed in the country.
TikTok has received criticism for data-related problems before. 2020 saw the Indian government ban of TikTok, citing concerns for national security. This happened not long after the Galwan incident, in which the Chinese army attempted to annex sovereign Indian territory. Donald Trump, a former US president, had threatened to outlaw the TikTok app for misusing data and breaching the law. To date, neither Google nor Apple nor TikTok have provided a statement regarding the letter.