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US FCC commissioner asks Apple and Google to take TikTok off their App Stores!

Brendan Carr, a member of the United States Federal Communications Commission, has written to Apple and Google requesting that TikTok’s app be removed from their app stores due to data security issues. ByteDance, based in Beijing, owns the popular short-form video app, which has previously received criticism from former US President Donald Trump over national security concerns. According to Reuters, the ‘request is unlikely given that the FCC does not have clear jurisdiction over the content of app shops’.

Carr referenced a Buzzfeed News story that alleged ByteDance staff in China had routinely accessed non-public US customer data in his letter to the tech titans. In audio recordings of TikTok internal meetings obtained by the news source, nine separate workers made fourteen distinct remarks indicating that they had access to US user data between September 2021 and January 2022.

TikTok said that it was routing all US user traffic data to Oracle Cloud infrastructure. It was migrating American users’ private data from its own data centers in the US and Singapore to Oracle cloud servers in the US. The announcement came on the same day as the BuzzFeed piece, June 17. On Friday, June 24, a group of six Republican senators questioned US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on the ongoing Biden administration national security assessment of TikTok.

‘TikTok is more than just a video app. That’s the wolf in sheep’s clothes. It gathers large amounts of sensitive data, which fresh reports reveal are being accessed in Beijing,’ Carr noted in the letter. ‘ It is evident that TikTok poses an unacceptable national security risk owing to its vast data gathering and Beijing’s ostensibly unrestricted access to critical material. It is also evident that TikTok’s pattern of conduct and misrepresentations regarding the unrestricted access that individuals in Beijing have to sensitive US user data puts it in violation of the regulations that both of your firms require every app to follow,’ he said.

The letter also mentions many of the other scandals that the short-form video social media app has been involved in over the years, including the transfer of US data to servers in China, unauthorized access to user data, and how India banned the app. Carr also requests that if Apple and Google do not remove the program from their respective app stores by June 24, they produce separate replies to him explaining their reasons for not acting by July 24. TikTok was banned in India in June 2020. The Indian government stated that TikTok and 58 other applications were ‘prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India, defense of India, state security, and public order’.



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