FCC Commissioner Asks Apple and Google To Ban TikTok

Posted on June 29, 2022 by Laurent Giret in Social with 20 Comments

Brendan Carr, one of the leaders of the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) asked Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their respective app stores. In a letter to the Apple and Google CEOs shared on Twitter (via CNBC), Carr pointed out the “vast troves of sensitive data” TikTok collects from US users.

TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Beijing-based company that is “required by Chinese law to comply with the PRC’s surveillance demands,” Carr claims. The FCC Commissioner also cited a recent report from Buzzfeed, which revealed that ByteDance officials have accessed data from Americans despite the company claiming that data from US TikTok users was being stored in the US.

“At its core, TikTok functions as a sophisticated surveillance tool that harvests extensive amounts of personal data and sensitive data,” Carr wrote. “Last week’s new report only adds to an overwhelming body of evidence that TikTok presents a serious national security threat.”

Following the report from Buzzfeed, TikTok announced on June 17 that 100% of user data was now being routed to Oracle 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,” the company said last week.

That’s apparently not enough for the FCC Commissioner, who wrote that TikTok’s statement about US user data “says nothing about where that data can be accessed from.” That’s why Carr is urging Apple and Google to take action, emphasizing the fact that both companies “have long claimed to operate their app stores in a manner that protects consumer privacy and safeguards their data.”

The FCC Commissioner ended his letter by asking Apple and Google to provide official statements by July 8 in case the two companies refuse his request to pull TikTok from their respective App Stores.

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Comments (20)

20 responses to “FCC Commissioner Asks Apple and Google To Ban TikTok”

  1. wright_is

    You missed, that they also requested Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, YouTube, Uber, Lyft, Verizon etc. apps should also be removed, because they are collect vast troves of sensitive data... Oh, wait...

    • CasualAdventurer

      You missed the point: TikTok is sharing all the data with the Chinese Communist Government. Normally I hate government interference in the marketplace, but this is one case I think you can make on the grounds of national security.

      • jdawgnoonan

        Oh no, TicTok has information about your stupid dance moves, and so does the Chinese government! Calamity!!!

      • wright_is

        Where is the difference, US companies have to do the same, upon request, either with a court order, or more sinisterly with a National Security Letter, which is a gag order at the same time, so the company can’t even say that it has received such an order.

        And it is also the collection of so much information that is a major problem, whether it goes to a government or not is largely irrelevant.

        • wosully

          You are serious? You don't understand the difference?

        • jason_e

          Come on. Surely you see the difference here.

          • wright_is

            As a European, no.

            As they say in Germany, it is a choice between the Plague or Cholera.

            • jtt888

              The US has issues, but ask the Uyghurs if there's any difference.

              • wright_is

                Ask those that sat for years in Gitmo, only to be released because even under torture, there was no evidence that they had done anything wrong. Ask those that have been secretly spied upon by their own government and persecuted.

                Heck, after last week, ask women living in pretty much half of the US, where they are no longer being treated as equals and having their decision making taken away from them by grumpy old men...

        • Donte

          The difference is the CCP is one of the worst, if not the worst human rights violators on the planet. They also do not respect any patents and blatantly copy/steal EVERYTHING, with the intent to replicate something like solar panels or whatever and then using their cheap/slave labor take over a market.

          All governments collect information. It is what they do with it and how they act on the world stage. China, Russia, Iran and North Korea are vastly negative impacts on our planet for so many reasons.

          • wosully

            Honestly, if he doesn't understand the difference, then having a more thorough conversation is wasteful Wow.

        • lvthunder

          Well I assume the FCC (a part of the federal government) trusts itself not to take advantage of that unlike the Chinese government.

  2. dftf

    I wonder if on Android it would still be possible to download the APK for TikTok and do a manual install, or whether the Google Play Protect service will uninstall the app whenever it finds it installed?

    Also, while I agree that TikTok likely does share data inappropriately, it's not like most of the other apps we use now also don't. So I can't help but feel that at least part of this action is simply down-to how overwhelming popular TT is with young people in the US, and that none of the alternatives US companies have offered (e.g. "YouTube Shorts") have gained much traction.

  3. Brian Hodges

    Gee, when Trump said this everybody thought he was crazy. Turns out he was right again.

  4. anoldamigauser

    What sensitive data are they collecting? What State secrets will be revealed? That we spend too much time dicking off on our phones, have an unhealthy desire to watch cute pet videos or viral dance challenges?

    If anyone with a security clearance is using social media, they should know better. The strela app gave away the position of covert bases because the personnel were sharing their running data. All of these apps collect far too much data and that is the real issue. The US government can acquire the TikTok data from Oracle and see what it gives away if they want.

    If the CCP wants the data from US social media companies, they can just fund shell companies and purchase it.

    This is all just as much bullshit as when it was first proposed by the former gameshow host and insurrection isn't.

  5. lvthunder

    Notice how when Trump said TikTok was bad many people called him a xenophobe, but when it's someone from the Biden administration there is no such accusation.

    • jdawgnoonan

      All Social Media is bad now and was bad then. Trump was right. But, he was mainly mad that TicTok was used to trash his rally. But it is still all a joke as well. The Chinese government, I am sure, is studying those goofy dance moves to see if they have national secrets.

    • JerryH

      Brendan Carr is a republican who was nominated to the FCC by President Trump. Not sure how President Biden plays into this at all. Remember that the FCC is not from any specific administration and is made up of commissioners from both parties.

  6. red.radar

    The FCC Commissioner needs to come forward with a case and evidence where TikTok is violating the Terms of Service of the AppStore and Playstore and not just throw generalized allegations. I tend to think its all BS as if there was a genuine policy violation or security concern the DOD or intelligence community would be working through other channels in the executive branch to bring forward actions.

    Secondly, TikTok has access to the same information as Facebook. If we are that concerned about TikTok we should be equally concerned about other social platforms. the real answer is the US needs to advance more comprehensive privacy reform that builds upon the lessons learned from the GDPR. Maybe I can stopped getting harassed by websites to accept the cookies or else.