The United States Federal Communications Commission (FTC) commissioner accused TikTok of harvesting user data and called on Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their respective app stores.
China Access To User Data
Brendan Carr, the commissioner of the FTC, cited a BuzzFeed News report that China had total access to user data.
Leaked audio from TikTok internal meetings indicated that China could access all user data from September 2021 to January 2022.
The timing is important because TikTok executives testified in October 2021 that a U.S. security team decides who has access.
It was against that backdrop that Mr. Carr sent a letter to Tim Cook, CEO of Apple and Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, requesting that they take action to remove TikTok from their respective app stores.
The letter stated that TikTok is out of compliance with Apple and Google’s terms and policies.
The commissioner wrote:
“Last week, an alarming new report shed fresh light on the serious national security threats posed by TikTok.
…TikTok is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance – an organization that is beholden to the Communist Party of China and required by Chinese law to comply with the PRC’s surveillance demands.
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.
…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.”
Google’s Developer Distribution Agreement requires that products made available through the Google Play app store protect user privacy.
The FCC commissioner tweeted:
“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.
I’ve called on @Apple & @Google to remove TikTok from their app stores for its pattern of surreptitious data practices.”
He also tweeted:
“Tiktok’s pattern of misrepresentations coupled with its ownership by an entity beholden to the CCP has resulted in U.S. military branches and national security agencies banning it from government devices.
Bipartisan leaders in both the Senate and House have flagged concerns.”
TikTok Still Available
TikTok remained available at both Apple and Google’s app stores, despite the news reports about China’s ability to access sensitive user data from TikTok and the FCC commissioner’s call for TikTok to be removed from Google’s app store.
Featured Image: Dima Cantemir Ph/Shutterstock