According to Mr. Carr, TikTok is a threat to US national security when it excessively collects US user data and sends it back to China.
A member of the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has called on Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores, likening the entertainment social networking platform to a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
On Tuesday, Republican Congressman Brendan Carr, a senior member of the FCC, drafted an open letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai. In the letter, he called on these companies to ban TikTok from app stores because it is “massively collecting sensitive data” from US users.
Carr’s letter refers to a recent BuzzFeed report that TikTok employees in China allegedly had deep access to US users’ data. The report cited nine different TikTok employees as saying that Chinese engineers had access to non-public data of US users.
Mr. Carr’s open letter to Apple and Google CEOs
In a tweet posted on Tuesday, Mr. Carr said TikTok’s video feature is just the app’s “lamb cover”. Citing a BuzzFeed report, Carr said TikTok collects “everything from search and browsing history to keystrokes, biometric identifiers including faces and voices.”
“It is clear that TikTok poses an unacceptable national security risk from its excessive collection of data combined with Beijing’s unlimited access to this data.” Mr. Carr said. “So I’m asking you to apply your app store pure policy to TikTok for not complying with those terms.”
The BuzzFeed report stems from a leaked audio recording during a meeting in September 2021. There, a TikTok employee said that an unnamed ByteDance engineer in China had “access to everything” rank”.
Hours before this report was published, TikTok said it had moved all user data in the US to domestic servers operated by Oracle. But the company’s China employees had access to US user data at least between September 2021 and January 2022.
This is not the first time TikTok has struggled in the US market due to concerns related to national security. In 2020, US President Donald Trump signed an executive law requiring ByteDance to divest from TikTok if it did not want to be banned from operating in the US. However, since the time of President Joe Biden until now, this plan seems to have been left open.