FCC commissioner wants TikTok removed from Apple, Google stores

YE--Over It
Posted at 10:30 AM, Jun 29, 2022

A Trump-appointed commissioner to the Federal Communications Commission said he wants TikTok removed from app stores citing security concerns. 

The statement comes two years after President Donald Trump attempted to block access to the app in the U.S., citing safety concerns. 

TikTok is a popular video-sharing platform used by millions of individuals, including politicians and celebrities.

Brendan Carr posted a letter he sent to Apple and Google claiming that China’s ruling party was obtaining user data. 

“TikTok is not what it appears to be on the surface. It is not just an app for sharing funny videos or meme. That’s the sheep’s clothing,” he said in the letter. “At its core, TikTok functions as a sophisticated surveillance tool that harvests extensive amounts of personal and sensitive data.”

Carr claims the data goes beyond videos. 

“It collects search and browsing histories, keystroke patterns, biometric identifiers, draft messages and metadata, plus it has collected the text, images, and videos that are stored on a device's clipboard,” he wrote. 

Shortly after Trump attempted to block access to TikTok in the U.S. in 2020, TikTok reached an agreement with Oracle to keep data on American users in the U.S. 

Albert Calamug, who leads U.S. security public policy for TikTok, has tried to assuage privacy concerns. 

“For more than a year, we've been working with Oracle on several measures as part of our commercial relationship to better safeguard our app, systems, and the security of US user data,” he said earlier this month. “We've now reached a significant milestone in that work: we've changed the default storage location of US user data. Today, 100% of US user traffic is being routed to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. We still use our US and Singapore data centers for backup, but as we continue our work we expect to delete US users' private data from our own data centers and fully pivot to Oracle cloud servers located in the US.”

However, this statement does not go far enough for Carr.

“TikTok's recent statement that it is moving U.S. user data to Oracle servers located in the U.S. does not address the concerns raised here,” Carr wrote. “TikTok has long claimed that its U.S. user data has been stored on servers in the U.S, and yet those representations provided no protection against the data being accessed from Beijing. Indeed, TikTok's statement that "100% of US user traffic is being routed to Oracle" says nothing about where that data can be accessed from.”

Carr is asking Apple and Google to respond to him by July 8 either by removing TikTok from their app stores or explain how the app does not violate their policies. 

Carr is one of four members currently serving on the FCC.