BEIJING – A leader of the US Federal Communications Commission said he has asked Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores because of data security concerns related to China.
The hugely popular short video app is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, which faces US scrutiny under President Donald Trump.
Brendan Carr, one of the FCC’s commissioners, shared via Twitter a letter addressed to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai. The letter points to reports and other developments that caused TikTok to fail to comply with the two companies’ app store policies.
A leader of the US Federal Communications Commission said he asked Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores because of data security concerns. Pictured here is the TikTok download page on Apple’s iPhone on August 7, 2020.
Drew Angerer | Getty Images News | beautiful pictures
“TikTok is not what it seems. It’s not just an app for sharing funny videos or memes. It’s sheep’s clothes,” he said in the letter. “At its core, TikTok acts as a sophisticated surveillance tool that collects large amounts of sensitive and personal data.”
Alphabet, Apple and TikTok did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
Carr’s letter, dated June 24 on the FCC letterhead, said that if Apple and Alphabet do not remove TikTok from their app stores, they should provide a statement to him by July 8.
Statements must explain “the basis for your company’s conclusion that surreptitious access to sensitive and private U.S. user data by people living in Beijing, along with the pattern of presentation and TikTok’s misleading behavior doesn’t violate any of your app store policies,” he said.
Trump nominated Carr in 2018 for a five-year term with the FCC. The Senate confirmed in December that the chair of the committee, Jessica Rosenworcel, would serve another five-year term.
Carr’s letter cites a BuzzFeed News report earlier this month that said audio recordings of TikTok employee statements showed engineers in China had access to US data between May and June. September 2021 to January 2022.
In a statement to CNBC, a spokesperson said: “Like many global companies, TikTok has engineering teams around the world. We use access control measures such as encryption and surveillance. security to secure user data and access approval process is overseen by our US based security team TikTok has consistently maintained that our engineers are located in different locations. Points outside the United States, including China, may be granted access to U.S. user data as necessary under such stringent controls.”
On June 17, the same day as the BuzzFeed report, TikTok announced it was routing all US users’ traffic to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure and was transferring US users’ personal data. States from their own data centers in the US and Singapore to Oracle cloud servers in the US