Brendan Carr calls for TikTok to be removed from app stores

Brendan Carr TikTok app stores
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Brendan Carr calls for TikTok to be removed from app stores

Google and Apple should remove the app from its stores over the alleged feeding of data to China, an FCC commissioner has said

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The US government wants the tech world to ban TikTok following media claims that its American branch lied about not sending personal data to China. TikTok should be removed from the app stores operated, Brendan Carr, one of the top officials in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), wrote to the tech giants.

“Numerous provisions of Apple’s & Google’s policies are relevant to TikTok’s pattern of surreptitious data harvesting – a pattern that runs contrary to its public representations,” the FCC Commissioner said on Tuesday on Twitter. “And there’s plenty of precedent for holding TikTok accountable by booting it from these app stores.”

Carr shared a complaint that he sent last week to Google and Apple, requesting the removal of TikTok. The stores for Android and Apple platforms controlled by the two US-based companies are the primary sources – the only legal source, in Apple’s case – of new apps for device users. In the letter, he called TikTok a “sophisticated surveillance tool that harvests extensive amounts of personal and sensitive data.”

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The commissioner cited a June 17 report by BuzzFeed, which alleged that, despite public assurances to the contrary, the US operator of the popular service didn’t protect private data from its Chinese parent company, ByteDance. The accusations were based on a recording of internal discussions that the outlet claimed to have obtained. 

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Carr wrote to Google and Apple that the story “only adds to an overwhelming body of evidence that TikTok poses a serious national security threat.” He said there was a bipartisan suspicion about the app in Congress as he called on private companies to expel the service.

In 2020, the Trump administration threatened to ban TikTok, citing concerns over access to the data of Americans it could be giving to Beijing. TikTok said it never shared private data with the Chinese government and would not do so. Carr, one of the four currently serving FCC commissioners, was nominated by the former president for a five-year term in 2018.

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TikTok downplayed the BuzzFeed report, saying it revealed the access of engineers to certain data that was not uncommon among people in the tech world. It also said it was moving the data to Oracle servers to boost its safety.

“Our goal is to minimize data access across regions so that, for example, employees in the [Asia Pacific] region, including China, would have very minimal access to user data from the EU and US,” chief information security officer Roland Cloutier said in a blog post.

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