FCC members ask Apple, Google to remove TikTok from App Store

A member of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said on Wednesday that he had asked Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their respective app stores due to data security concerns.

FCC member Brendan Carr shared a message on Twitter to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google parent Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai. Numerous reports and other developments have made TikTok in violation of the companies’ app store policies, the letter said.

In his June 24 letter, Carr wrote: “TikTok is not what it appears to be. It is not just an app for sharing funny videos or memes, that is just appearances. TikTok is the equivalent of a sophisticated surveillance tool. Can collect large amounts of personal information and sensitive data.”

He also demanded that if Apple and Alphabet do not remove TikTok from their app stores, they should provide him with a statement by July 8. Carr said the statement should explain “the basis on which the companies reached their conclusions and demonstrate that the TikTok business model does not violate any of your app store policies.”

Alphabet, Apple and TikTok did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

However, Carr’s request is unlikely to be supported because the FCC has no authority to regulate app stores and the agency’s agenda is largely set by its Democratic chairman. In 2018, Trump nominated Carl to serve five years at the FCC. In December, the U.S. Senate confirmed that FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel will serve another five-year term.

In a previous statement, TikTok spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter said: “Like many multinational companies, TikTok has engineering teams around the world. We employ access control mechanisms such as encryption and security monitoring to protect users. The data and access approval process is overseen by our U.S.-based security team. TikTok has always maintained that under these strict controls, our engineers outside the U.S. can access U.S. users’ data as needed.”

On June 17, the same day BuzzFeed News published the above article, TikTok announced that it would route all U.S. user traffic to Oracle’s cloud infrastructure and move U.S. users’ private data from its U.S. and Singapore data centers to Oracle on cloud servers in the US.

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