A Republican Party member of the United States’ Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has urged Apple and Google CEOs to remove China’s Tikto from their app stores. Brendan Carr, the FCC commissioner, sent the CEOs a letter on FCC letterhead. The letter was sent on June 24th. Carr claims that the video-sharing app TikTok has amassed vast amounts of sensitive data on US users, which Bytedance staff in Beijing can access. TikTok’s Chinese parent company is ByteDance. Carr revealed the contents of the letter in a tweet on Tuesday (June 30).
“TikTok is more than just a video app. That’s the wolf in sheep’s clothing “Carr stated this on Twitter. “It harvests vast amounts of sensitive data, which new reports indicate are being accessed in Beijing.”
Carr demanded that the companies either remove TikTok from their app stores by July 8 or explain why they did not.
Carr’s request is unusual, given that the FCC lacks clear jurisdiction over app store content. The FCC regulates the national security space primarily through its authority to grant companies certain communications licenses.
According to a Tiktok spokesperson, engineers in locations other than the United States, including China, can be granted access to U.S. user data “on an as-needed basis” and under “strict controls.”
According to Reuters, Google declined to comment on Carr’s letter, and Apple did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
TikTok has been under U.S. regulatory scrutiny over its collection of U.S. personal data. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which reviews deals by foreign acquirers for potential national security risks, ordered ByteDance in 2020 to divest TikTok because of fears that U.S. user data could be passed on to China’s communist government.