TikTok Faces Ban from Google and Apple Stores: ‘Nat’l Security Risk’

U.S. regulator calls for app to be removed from app stores citing “data harvesting.”

QUICK FACTS:
  • A Federal Communications Commission (FEC) official has called on Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores, claiming the Chinese social media platform poses a “national security risk.”
  • TikTok user data has been repeatedly accessed by China, and now the app represents a “sophisticated surveillance tool that harvests extensive amounts of personal and sensitive data,” according to FCC commissioner Brendan Carr.
  • Carr explained these revelations in a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai in which he outlined how TikTok “poses an unacceptable national security risk due to its extensive data harvesting combined with Beijing’s apparently unchecked access to that sensitive data.”
  • The commissioner went on to argue that TikTok has a “pattern of conduct and misrepresentations regarding the unfettered access that persons in Beijing have to sensitive US user data.”
  • “TikTok is not what it appears to be on the surface,” Carr added in the letter. “It’s not just an app for sharing funny videos or memes. That’s the sheep’s clothing. At its core, TikTok functions as a sophisticated surveillance tool that harvests extensive amounts of personal and sensitive data.”
  • TikTok is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, which is an official partner of Klaus Schwab’s “Great Reset”-advancing World Economic Forum.
BUZZFEED REVEALED TIKTOK’S ACCESS TO USERS’ PERSONAL DATA:
  • Earlier this month, BuzzFeed News reported that ByteDance engineers in China had access to U.S. user data between September 2021 and January 2022.
  • The news outlet cited audio from over 80 internal TikTok meetings.
  • “I feel like with these tools, there’s some backdoor to access user data in almost all of them,” said an external auditor hired to help TikTok close off Chinese access to sensitive information, like Americans’ birthdays and phone numbers, according to BuzzFeed.
  • TikTok spokesperson Maureen Shanahan responded at the time: “We know we’re among the most scrutinized platforms from a security standpoint, and we aim to remove any doubt about the security of US user data. That’s why we hire experts in their fields, continually work to validate our security standards, and bring in reputable, independent third parties to test our defenses.”
BACKGROUND:
  • President Donald Trump’s administration in 2020 threatened to ban TikTok over concerns China could gain access to Americans’ personal data. Forty percent of Americans supported President Trump’s move at the time.
  • The Biden admin has reviewed rule change proposals that would give the government more oversight over apps—like TikTok—that it deems pose as national security risks.
  • TikTok has denied sharing private data with the Chinese government.