TikTok’s promises to keep the data of its users in the US safe and sound do not satisfy any member of the Federal Communications Commission. FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said in an angry letter on Wednesday that the Chinese company has proven that it cannot be trusted with the information users provide it and that it should brace itself and throw out the gateway.
On Tuesday, Carr posted an open letter sent to Google and Apple on his Twitter account. In it, he called on companies to remove the TikTok app from their app stores. Carr cites several cases where a company extremely demanding on data. Most recently BuzzFeed News informed that the Chinese government has accessed US users’ data despite TikTok’s claims that it stores US user information on servers in the US, away from the prying eyes of Beijing. In his letter, Carr said that both Apple and Alphabet, Google’s parent company, must remove TikTok from app stores or send him a letter explaining their actions by July 8.
TikTok is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance. In his letter, Carr said that extraordinarily popular The social app, which was downloaded 19 million times on Google and Apple platforms in the first quarter of this year alone, “poses an unacceptable national security risk” due to its data collection activities combined with China’s actions. an ever-expanding state of observation.
The commissioner also said that the company’s alleged abuse of user data “puts it out of line” with both companies’ app store policies. Specifically, he cites guidelines requiring apps to show how and where they will use personal information.
Neither Google nor Apple immediately responded to Gizmodo’s requests for comment. A TikTok spokesperson made no statement regarding Carr’s letter, but instead said: “We’d love to work with legislators to bring clarity to misleading BuzzFeed posts.Representative previously told Gizmodo that “we are committed to removing any concerns about the security of user data in the US.”
Carr, who was originally assigned to the FCC under former President Donald Trump, previously slandered against Silicon Valley giants like Twitter. While he told Gizmodo in a phone interview that the letter does not represent any kind of FCC “regulatory hook”, instead it represents “a way to eliminate this threat” by getting companies involved. While he said the allegation of this letter against TikTok has not been discussed in depth with the other members of the commission, he hopes they will look into the matter more closely as they have already reached a “bipartisan consensus” on Chinese companies such as Huawei.
The Commissioner acknowledged that he does not have high hopes that any company will censor the hugely popular TikTok app on their platforms because of the “deep supply chain ties that Apple and Google have in China.” However, he hopes that companies will be “neutral in applying their policies” to the issue.
The FCC Commissioner also cited reports from 2020 that fell into the hands of TikTok. permanent user data bypassing Google’s security measures and was devouring passwords and private messages from iOS devices. TikTok agreed to pay $92 million in 2021 for collecting vast amounts of personal information and user data and sending it to Chinese servers.
While there is no real legal threat in the letter, Carr’s words help draw attention to TikTok’s responses to lawmakers’ previous concerns about how the app maker handles user data. Donald Trump tried to ban TikTok and then talked ByteDance into selling TikTok to an American partner.
The commissioner argued that “precedentfor the two tech giants to remove apps that don’t live up to their standards, stating that both the App Store and Android Play Store remote applications to collect user data. Google has previously stated, “All apps on Google Play must comply with our policies, regardless of the developer. When we determine that an application violates these rules, we take appropriate action.”
However, none of these previously removed apps have been as big as TikTok on either platform.
The Buzzfeed report was based on several leaked audio recordings from internal meetings. One employee reportedly stated that, in fact, “everything is visible in China.” Another employee apparently told a colleague, “I’m getting instructions from the main office in Beijing.” This is despite the fact that the company has previously assured congressional legislators that US offices have the final say on what happens to Americans’ data. Almost as if he was expecting news about this original Buzzfeed report from June 17, TikTok announced On the same day, he completed the transfer of his US user data to servers in the US.
Update 6/29/22 1:20 PM/1:50 PM ET: This post has been updated to include quotes from FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr and a TikTok spokesperson.
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