FCC Commissioner Calls Apple, Alphabet to TikTok Board – The Hollywood Reporter

A Federal Communications Commissioner is urging Apple and Alphabet to remove TikTok from the company’s app stores. According to a letter to the companies’ executives, FCC commissioner Brendan Carr said TikTok poses an “unacceptable security risk” because it exploits vast user data, which is being accessed accessed by employees in China.

“TikTok is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, an organization belonging to the Communist Party of China and is required by Chinese law to comply with PRC surveillance requirements,” the letter sent on Tuesday said. .

TikTok has taken issue with the government over its parent company’s relationship with China. In 2020, former President Donald Trump issued an executive order ordering ByteDance to relinquish ownership of the app. He threatened to shut down the company’s US operations if the company refused to comply (the order was blocked by a federal court). TikTok’s scrutiny subsided when President Joe Biden took office, but the company continued to run into legal trouble. TikTok in 2021 agreed to pay $92 million to settle lawsuits alleging that the app surreptitiously transferred to servers in China large amounts of user data about children that could be weaponized. to track user activity.

TikTok has denied ever sharing user data with the Chinese government.

In the face of concerns that the Chinese government is weaponizing user data, in June, TikTok announced that its US user traffic is now being routed to Oracle servers based in the country. this family. The move is done after News about BuzzFeed reports that Beijing-based ByteDance employees have repeatedly accessed the private data of US users.

However, Carr says the server migration isn’t enough.

“TikTok has long claimed that its US user data was stored on servers in the US and that those representatives did not provide protection against data being accessed from Beijing.” written letter. “Indeed, TikTok’s claim that ‘100% of US user traffic is being routed to Oracle’ says nothing about where that data can be accessed from.”

According to the Republican FCC commissioner, TikTok violates Apple’s and Google’s policies governing the app stores’ inclusion of user data. He cited Apple’s guidelines stating that an app developer “must provide access to information about how and where data is stored.” [of an individual] will be used” and “data collected from the app may only be shared with third parties to improve the app or serve ads”. Regarding Google’s app store, Carr argued that TikTok violated rules that require developers to disclose the app’s data access, collection, use and sharing rights.

TikTok said in a statement that it would be “ready to engage with lawmakers to set the record regarding BuzzFeedfalse reporting. “

“Like many global companies, TikTok has engineering teams around the world,” the statement read. “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. I. TikTok has always maintained that our engineers in locations outside the US, including China, may be granted access to US user data on an as-needed basis under controls. that tight. “

TikTok has skyrocketed in use during the pandemic with over 1 billion active users. It was downloaded more than 19 million times in the first quarter of 2022.

Apple and Alphabet did not respond to requests for comment.

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