FCC commissioner Request Apple and Google remove TikTok app: Tensions between the US government and TikTok have resurfaced. FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr urged Apple CEO Tim Cook and Alphabet (Google) CEO Sundar Pichai to remove the social network video app from their respective app stores in a letter shared on Twitter
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FCC commissioner Request Apple and Google remove TikTok app
Carr writes that if they do not delete the software by July 8, they must produce a statement explaining how the app does not violate their individual app store regulations.
We contacted Apple, Google, and TikTok, but there has been no official response as of yet. If we receive feedback, we will update this story.
TikTok tension: Why is this happening right now?
On June 17, BuzzFeed(opens in new tab) published an article accusing ByteDance (TikTok’s parent firm) of deceiving US regulators about how it handled US user data. A ByteDance executive testified in October 2021 that access to US user data will be determined only by a US-based security staff.
However, BuzzFeed discovered evidence that implies that from September 2021 to January 2022, control of this US customer data was in the hands of Chinese engineers. This is potentially dangerous because the Chinese government might access any data in China. In a response to CNN, TikTok called the BuzzFeed piece “misleading”.
In his letter to Apple and Alphabet, Carr directly mentions this report. He goes on to say that TikTok is a “major national security threat,” citing many instances where TikTok may have broken the standards of Apple and Google’s respective app stores.
TikTok said on the same day as the BuzzFeed article that “100% of US user traffic is being routed to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure.” Carr recognises this in his letter, adding that while traffic is being directed to Oracle servers, there is no certainty that the data on those servers cannot be viewed from other locations, including Beijing.
TikTok Tension: What happened the last time the US government intervened in TikTok?
If the drama between TikTok and the US government sounds familiar, it is. Former President Donald Trump attempted to force ByteDance to withdraw from TikTok’s US operations in 2020. This fueled rumours of a sale to Microsoft, which ultimately fell through, as well as a rumoured sale to Oracle, which also fell through.
In the end, nothing came of this attempt to kick ByteDance off TikTok in the United States. It did, however, kickstart the cooperation between ByteDance and Oracle, which has resulted in TikTok user data for the United States being held on Oracle cloud servers.
TikTok tension: How does this impact users?
For the time being, this will have no effect on the popular social media video app’s users in the United States. It is unclear what jurisdiction the FCC has, if any, to control what can and cannot be found on app shops. Furthermore, there has been no indication from FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel that the remainder of the commission will support Carr’s efforts.
However, both this letter and the BuzzFeed piece emphasise the need of consumers being cautious about what data they share and do not publish on the internet and social media. While the Chinese government’s access to user data in the United States is obviously troubling, there are other hazards that customers confront on a daily basis in the digital world.