Apple and Google call for expulsion of TikTok from App Store – The Hollywood Reporter

A member of the Senate Intelligence Committee is pushing Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores over national security concerns as the Chinese-owned company faces the prospect of climbing national ban as bipartisan closely monitors their data-sharing practices.

In a letter to Apple and Alphabet executives, Senator Michael Bennet, D-Colo. said TikTok’s popularity “raises the obvious risk that the Chinese Communist Party could weaponize TikTok against the United States” by forcing parent company ByteDance to “hand over sensitive Americans’ data.” or manipulate content received by Americans to advance China’s interests.”

The government is increasingly taking action against TikTok’s relationship with China. In December, President Joe Biden signed a bill banning nearly four million government employees from using TikTok on devices owned by their agencies. At least 27 state governments have passed similar measures.

There is no evidence that the Chinese government requests US user data from TikTok or its parent company or affects the content users see on the platform.

In a statement, TikTok said that Bennet “relies almost exclusively on false reporting about TikTok, the data we collect, and our data security controls.” It added that the letter foregoes its investment in a plan, called Project Texas, to “provide additional reassurance to our community regarding the security of their data and the integrity of their data.” integrity of the TikTok platform.”

Reflecting the concerns raised in a letter from the Federal Communications commissioners to Apple and Google in June, Bennett highlighted TikTok’s data collection practices. Its reach, he said, “allows it to collect broad data about Americans, including device information, search and viewing history, message content, IP addresses, fingerprints, and fingerprints.” hands and voice.” Unlike other tech companies that collect similar data, he claimed TikTok “raises special concern” because Chinese law is required to cooperate with state intelligence work.

TikTok has over 100 million active users. About 36% of Americans over the age of 12 use the platform, spending more than 80 minutes a day on the app — more than Facebook and Instagram combined. In November, TikTok confirmed that employees working in China could remotely access European user data. The BuzzFeed News report also revealed that the company’s employees in China had access to US user data.

According to the letter, the data that TikTok collects could be used by the Chinese government to advance China’s interests. For instance, it could be forced to tweak its algorithm to boost content that undermines US democratic institutions or “prevent criticism of the CCP’s policies towards Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.” Loan or its Uighur population”.

According to a Pew survey in 2022, one-third of TikTok’s adult users report that they regularly access news from the app. Forbes reported on the ability of TikTok employees to “secretly sift through videos and speed up their distribution, using an internal method known as heating.”

To curb criticism of its data-sharing practices, TikTok has announced a partnership with Oracle to transfer its data about US users stored on foreign servers to Texas. The project also includes examining its algorithms and establishing a subsidiary called TikTok US Data Security to oversee content moderation policies and approve editorial decisions. US employees will report to an independent board of directors.

The US Foreign Investment Commission, which considers business transactions that could pose a threat to national security, is looking into ByteDance’s 2017 merger of TikTok and Musical.ly. It could force TikTok to be sold to a US company, going back to the time when former President Donald Trump issued an executive order in 2020 asking ByteDance to give up ownership of the app (this order has been denied by a federal court). blocking state). Surveillance of TikTok subsided when Biden took office, but the company continued to run into legal trouble over its data-sharing practices. In 2021, TikTok agreed to pay $92 million to settle lawsuits alleging that the app secretly transferred large amounts of user data about children to servers in China.

Anupam Chander, a professor of law and technology at Georgetown University who was briefed on Project Texas by TikTok, said the US ban on TikTok could “encourage other governments to do the same for other governments.” applications and services from the United States”. He added, “It’s not clear to me that anything discounted will satisfy TikTok’s critics.”

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew will appear before a House committee in March.

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