The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in a letter has asked Apple and Google to remove TikTok from app stores based on China-related data security concerns.
Leaked audio from 80 internal TikTok meetings to BuzzFeed in early June suggests China-based employees of ByteDance have repeatedly accessed nonpublic data about U.S. TikTok users. Some report it confirms the behavior that inspired former president Donald Trump to threaten to ban the app in the United States.
Brendan Carr, an FCC commissioner, shared a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai via Twitter pointing to reports and other developments that cited TikTok as non-compliant with the app store policies at the two companies.
Carr points out that TikTok collects search and browsing history, biometric data and keystroke patterns of users, among other information.
“Statistics show that TikTok has been downloaded in the U.S. from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store nearly 19 million times in the first quarter of this year along,” Carr writes in the letter. “It is clear that TikTok poses an unacceptable national security risk duw to its extensive data harvesting being combines with Beijing’s apparently unchecked access to that sensitive data.”
He also points out in the letter, dated June 24, that early in 2019 TikTok paid $5.7 million to settle a Federal Trade Commission allegation that its predecessor app illegally collected personal data on children under the age of 13.
Carr’s letter explains that if Apple and Google do not remove TikTok from their app stores, they must provide statements to him by July 8.
Trump nominated Carr in 2018 to a five-year term with the FCC.
In the June 22 report from Baird Equity Research, analysts wrote that while most social-media search interest declined in the past week, compared with the prior week, TikTok, Snapchat, and Pinterest rose slightly higher.