What just happened? Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Brendan Carr has called on Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their respective app stores following new reports that user data is being accessed by Chinese employees of its parent company ByteDance.
“TikTok is not just another video app. It is a sheep’s clothing. It harvests swathes of sensitive data that new reports say are accessed in Beijing,” Carr tweeted.
The already popular TikTok has seen a surge in users during the pandemic and now has over 1 billion MAUs (monthly active users). This is despite longstanding privacy and national security concerns over China-based ByteDance’s access to sensitive information about those who use the short form video platform.
New reports mentioned by Carr featured from BuzzFeed News. The publication writes that audio leaks from more than 80 internal ByteDance meetings confirmed that engineers repeatedly accessed non-public data on US TikTok users between September 2021 and January 2022. The report was released hours later. that TikTok said it migrated 100% of US users. traffic to a new Oracle Cloud infrastructure.
TikTok is not just another video app.
It is the sheep’s clothing.
It harvests swathes of sensitive data that new reports say are accessed in Beijing.
— Brendan Carr (@BrendanCarrFCC) June 28, 2022
Carr included in his tweet a copy of the letter he sent to Apple boss Tim Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai asking that TikTok be removed from the companies’ respective app stores. It says the app “poses an unacceptable risk to national security due to its intensive data collection combined with Beijing’s seemingly uncontrolled access to this sensitive data.”
“TikTok is not what it seems on the surface,” Carr writes. “It’s not just an app for sharing funny videos or memes. It is the sheep’s clothing. At its core, TikTok functions as a sophisticated surveillance tool that harvests vast amounts of personal and sensitive data. »
The Trump administration has fought a long-running battle with TikTok, including a threat to ban the app if an American buyer doesn’t buy it. Microsoft and Oracle seemed taxed, but neither company budged. The purchase deadline was finally passed without the government enforcing a ban.
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