U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) commissioner Brendan Carr has called on Apple and Google to take TikTok down from its app stores due to a number of security concerns, saying the platform “presents a serious national security threat”.
A member of the FCC has written to Apple and Google CEOs Tim Cook and Sundar Pichai, calling for the companies to remove popular social media platform TikTok from their app stores.
Brendan Carr sent the four-page memo to the two heads in the wake of an “alarming new report” from BuzzFeed which stated the platform “collects vast troves of sensitive data about U.S. users” which was then accessed by Chinese officials.
Carr called the app’s main purpose of “sharing funny videos or memes” as “the sheep’s clothing”, with the wolf being the platform functioning as “a sophisticated surveillance tool”.
“TikTok collects everything from search and browsing histories to keystroke patterns and biometric identifiers, including faceprints — which researchers have said might be used in unrelated facial recognition technology — and voiceprints,” he said.
“Numerous provisions of the Apple App Store and Google Play Store policies are relevant to TikTok’s pattern of surreptitious data practices — a pattern that runs contrary to its repeated representations.”
The commissioner also highlighted previous instances where Apple and Google took down apps for similar data-sharing breaches. He has asked for a reply by July 8.
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
It is not the first time officials have lobbied for a TikTok ban in the United States.
Former President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order back in August 2020 which pushed for owners Bytedance to shut down all operations in the country within 45 days. The order was never finalized, with TikTok continuing to grow to this day.
Apple and Google are yet to reply to Carr’s requests with both app store fronts still offering the social media platform to users. The app has been downloaded billions of times across both since it hit the mainstream in 2018.