In a letter to Apple and Google, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) asked them to remove TikTok from their app stores. Tim Cook and Sundar Pichai, the CEOs of both firms, received a letter from FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr accusing them of capturing large amounts of private information that is accessed in Beijing.
TikTok, according to the Commissioner, is a “sophisticated surveillance instrument that captures enormous amounts of personal and sensitive data,” not merely an app for sharing amusing memes or videos.
This came after a recent BuzzFeed News story claiming that up until January, employees of TikTok in China had access to the data of users living in the US.
As of today, June 29, 2022, TikTok app has recorded over 1 billion downloads on the Google Play store alone.
Brendan Carr in the letter dated June 24, 2022, and addressed to both Apple and Google said: “As you know TikTok is an app that is available to millions of Americans through your app stores, and it collects vast troves of sensitive data about those US users. TikTok is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance — an organization that is beholden to the Communist Party of China and required by the Chinese law to comply with 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.
“I am writing the two of you because Apple and Google hold themselves out as operating app stores that are safe and trusted places to discover and download apps. Nonetheless, Apple and Google have reviewed and approved the TikTok app for inclusion in your respective app stores. Indeed, statistics show that TikTok has been downloaded from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store nearly 19 million times in the first quarter of this year alone.
“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 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,” the FCC Commissioner wrote.