U.S. FCC commissioner wants Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores

Roger Stringer • July 01, 2022

2 min read

Brendan Carr, one of the FCC’s commissioners, in a letter to Tim Cook and Sundar Pichai:

I am writing the two of you because Apple and Google hold themselves out as operating app stores that are safe and trusted places to discover and download apps. Nonetheless, Apple and Google have reviewed and approved the TikTok app for inclusion in your respective app stores. Indeed, statistics show that TikTok has been downloaded in the U.S. from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store nearly 19 million times in the first quarter of this year alone. It is clear that TikTok poses an unacceptable national security risk due to its extensive data harvesting being combined with Beijing’s apparently unchecked access to that sensitive data. But it is also clear that TikTok’s pattern of conduct and misrepresentations regarding the unfettered access that persons in Beijing have to sensitive U.S. user data- just some of which is detailed below-puts it out of compliance with the policies that both of your companies require every app to adhere to as a condition of remaining available on your app stores. Therefore, I am requesting that you apply the plain text of your app store policies to TikTok and remove it from your app stores for failure to abide by those terms.

TikTok is not what it appears to be on the surface. It is 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.

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Moreover, Apple and Google have long claimed to operate their app stores in a manner that protects consumer privacy and safeguards their data. Therefore, I am requesting that you apply your app store policies to TikTok and remove it from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for failing to comply with those policies. If you do not remove TikTok from your app stores, please provide separate responses to me by July 8, 2022, explaining the basis for your company’s conclusion that the surreptitious access of private and sensitive U.S. user data by persons located in Beijing, coupled with TikTok’s pattern of misleading representations and conduct, does not run afoul of any of your app store policies.

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