TikTok promises change as US lawmakers call for Google & Apple to ban it
TikTok has responded to calls for the app to be banned in the United States of America, stating they will make changes to “remove any doubt” about the security of US user data.
Nine Republican senators have pushed TikTok for answers after a Buzzfeed article sparked security concerns, on June 17. They reported its parent company, ByteDance, was able to access non-public data for its American users.
With the prospect of private US user data being passed to China’s government in mind, which could affect millions of its users, Federal Communications Commissioner (FCC) Brendan Carr called for it to be banned. The FCC regulates national security across the country.
Carr has urged both Google and Apple chiefs to remove TikTok from their app stores. He said: “TikTok is not just another video app. It harvests swaths of sensitive data that new reports show are being accessed in Beijing.”
He also described the data controversy as “a serious national security threat.”
TikTok is not just another video app.
That’s the sheep’s clothing.
It harvests swaths of sensitive data that new reports show are being accessed in Beijing.
— Brendan Carr (@BrendanCarrFCC) June 28, 2022
In September 2020, Donald Trump announced as President that the app would be banned – though it never materialized.
TikTok issues statement on US data
On July 1, TikTok responded to the suggestions from US lawmakers, with the company’s chief executive Shou Zi Chew penning a letter to update their workforce.
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In the letter, quoted by Reuters, they conceded that China-based employees can have access to US user data “subject to a series of robust cybersecurity controls and authorization approval protocols overseen by our U.S.-based security team.”
It also said it expects “to delete US users protected data from our own systems and fully pivot to Oracle cloud servers located in the US.”
The letter continued: ”We know we are among the most scrutinized platforms from a security standpoint and we aim to remove any doubt about the security of U.S. user data.”
In light of the Buzzfeed report, and increasing pressure from lawmakers, changes are likely to be implemented in due course to cool speculation of an outright ban in what TikTok sees as its biggest market, the United States.
Apple and Google are yet to respond to calls for them to remove TikTok – an application with over one billion users globally – from their app stores.