FCC Commissioner, Brendan Carr, posted an open letter to his Twitter account to both Apple and Google requesting they both remove the popular social media app TikTok app from their app stores due to growing national security concerns over the app.
In the letter, Carr alleges that TikTok is a “sophisticated surveillance tool that harvests extensive amounts of personal and sensitive data.” and goes on to state that the popular video app collects everything “from search and browsing histories to keystroke patterns and biometric identifiers, including faceprints”, which could be used in facial recognition technology as well as voiceprints and the list goes on from there.
He then proceeds to go down a list of questionable TikTok data practices in the last couple of years that serves as evidence that TikTok is violating both Apple and Google app store policies. While some of these are a bit expected, (mainly from government agencies that are in the national security business and private companies banning the app from company-issued phones) but there are some not-so-obvious ones.
Some of these also include how back in March of 2020 researchers uncovered that TikTok was accessing sensitive data of its users including passwords, crypto wallets, and personal messages. Carr also mentions how a BuzzFeed News investigation identified a “Master Admin” in Beijing, China that had access to “everything”.
Carr also pointed out how India banned TikTok on national security grounds. He also mentioned how the Navy, Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps banned TikTok on government-issued devices due to security concerns and how U.S. government officials urged not just troops but their spouses as well.
Commissioner Carr requested at the end of the letter that Google and Apple have until July 8, 2022, to remove TikTok, or explain why they decided it did not violate any policies, despite removing other apps from the app store in the past for harvesting data, similar to TikTok.
The full letter can be read here in its entirety.