FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr wants Apple and Google to stop offeringin their app stores, claiming the popular social video app is a “serious threat to national security”.
“TikTok is not what it seems on the surface. It’s not just an app for sharing funny videos or memes. It’s a sheep’s clothing,” reads a letter to the CEO. of Apple, Tim Cook, and Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, dated June 24. posted the letter on Twitter tuesday.
Carr, a Republican commissioner appointed under the Trump administration, said in the letter that TikTok “operates as a sophisticated surveillance tool that harvests vast amounts of personal and sensitive data.” He urged tech companies to remove the downloadable app.
The letter lists the various ways in which TikTok’s practices have allegedly violated the policies of Apple’s and Google’s app stores. Carr also cites a Buzzfeed News report from earlier this month that said TikTok’s U.S. data was accessed by employees in China.
TikTok declined to comment on Carr’s letter, but said it responded to concerns about access to US user data.
“We use access controls such as encryption and security monitoring to secure user data, and the access approval process is overseen by our US-based security team,” said a TikTok spokesperson in an emailed statement. “TikTok has always maintained that our engineers located outside of the United States, including in China, can access US user data as needed under these strict controls.”
The spokesperson said TikTok would continue to “work on additional US data safeguards to improve our community’s peace of mind.”
Beijing-based TikTok parent company ByteDance is no stranger to these allegations. For years, lawmakers and regulators have raised concerns about the platform’s collection and protection of users’ personal data. The app is already, and in 2020 the Trump administration ordered ByteDance to divest TikTok. However, the sale was not enforced by the Biden administration.
Earlier this month, in a bid to allay concerns, TikTok announced it would move its servers holding US user data to Oracle storage locations in the US. However, Carr said, that move did not address the concerns raised in her letter.
Carr asked Apple and Google to respond by July 8 explaining why TikTok remains in their app stores.
Apple and Google did not respond to requests for comment.