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US regulator wants TikTok banned from Apple App Store and Google Play Store!

A commissioner with the FCC is asking Apple and Google to consider banning TikTok from their app stores over data privacy issues.
US regulator wants TikTok banned from Apple App Store and Google Play Store!
File photo: TikTok logo

Carr: TikTok poses an "unacceptable" national security risk

Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr has written a letter addressed to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google's parent company, Alphabet. In the letter, Carr listed multiple instances of the company evading various privacy and data security laws worldwide. He even posted the document on his Twitter account with a caption, 

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 and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores for its pattern of surreptitious data practices.

The official cited a new report from Buzzfeed News about the "serious national security threats posed by TikTok."Allegedly, the report contains an analysis of leaked audio recordings from more than 80 internal meetings of the Chinese company.

According to the source, there were private data from TikTok users from the US that had been accessed by employees of TikTok's parent company, ByteDance. 

Moreover, the BuzzFeed report discovered that ByteDance employees have repeatedly accessed sensitive data that TikTok has gathered from Americans who downloaded the app. The report also mentions that a member of the Trust and Safety department said in a September meeting that "everything is seen in China".

Carr cannot compel either Apple or Google to dismiss the free app from their stores. However, other Republican lawmakers have also pushed to make TikTok accountable. 

There are 9 senators who addressed a  letter to the TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, requiring answers to nearly a dozen questions about user privacy. They voiced concerns regarding statements made by TikTok's VP and Head of Public Policy for the Americas, Michael Beckerman in a congressional hearing headed by Blackburn. 

During the hearing, Beckerman declared that the company did not give information to the Chinese government. Aside from that, the TikTok executive explained to the panel that user data was stored in the US and backed up in Singapore. Hence, the letter said that Beckerman "did not provide truthful or forthright answers."

In response to the BuzzFeed report and questions from lawmakers, a TikTok spokesperson announced that the company "is doing exactly what it said it would: addressing concerns around access to U.S. user data by employees outside the U.S." The statement reads,

We've been clear and vocal about our work in this area as we seek to address both location and access to data. We're pleased that we now route 100 percent of U.S. user traffic to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, and we are continuing to work on additional safeguards on U.S. data for improved peace of mind for our community.
The spokesperson also noted that TikTok would "gladly engage with lawmakers to set the record straight regarding BuzzFeed's misleading reporting". The company also asserted that it has consistently maintained that its engineers in locations outside of the US, including China, can be granted access to user data on an as-needed basis under those strict controls.

Any thoughts on this issue?

Source: CBS News

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