The hugely popular short video app is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, which has experienced The United States is under the scrutiny of President Donald Trump.
Brendan Carr, one of the FCC Commissioners, shared a letter on Twitter to Apple’s CEO. Tim Cook and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai. The letter pointed to reports and other developments that caused TikTok to fall short of the two companies’ app store policies.
The head of the US Federal Communications Commission said he asked Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores due to data security concerns. Pictured here is the TikTok download page on Apple iPhone on August 7, 2020.
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“TikTok is not what it seems at first glance. It’s not just an app for sharing funny videos or memes. It is sheepskin,” he said in a letter. “At its core, TikTok functions as a sophisticated surveillance tool that collects a large amount of personal and sensitive data.”
Alphabet, Apple and TikTok did not immediately respond to CNBC requests for comment.
Carr’s June 24 letter on FCC letterhead stated that if Apple and Alphabet did not remove TikTok from their app stores, they had until July 8 to provide him with a statement.
Statements must explain “the basis for your company’s conclusion that secret access to private and confidential user data in the United States by persons located in Beijing, combined with the nature of TikTok’s misleading representations and behavior, does not conflict with any of your app store policies, “he said.
In 2018, Trump nominated Carr for a five-year term at the FCC. In December, the Senate confirmed that Commission Chair Jessica Rosenworsel would remain in office for another five years.
Carr’s letter quoted BuzzFeed news report earlier in the month, when records of statements by TikTok employees showed that engineers in China had access to U.S. data between September 2021 and January 2022.
In a statement to CNBC, a spokesperson said, “Like many global companies, TikTok has engineering teams around the world. TikTok has consistently asserted that our engineers outside the US, including China, can be granted access to user data in the US as needed under these strict controls.”
June 17, the same day that the BuzzFeed report was published, TikTok announced it routed all US user traffic to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure and moved US user personal data from its own data centers in the US and Singapore to Oracle cloud servers in the USA