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TikTok Labelled As National Security Threat

US FCC Brendan Carr has called for the ban of popular video sharing app TikTok, claiming that it is a wolf in “sheep’s clothing” and a national security risk.

In an open letter addressed to Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Apple CEO Tim Took, the FCC commissioner requested that the app be removed. In the letter, Carr refers to a recent Buzzfeed report that contained leaked audio in which American TikTok staff stated that employees of parent company ByteDance that were based in China, were able to repeatedly access restricted data of US users.

“At its core, TikTok functions as a sophisticated surveillance tool that harvests extensive amounts of personal and sensitive data,” says Carr.

“Indeed, TikTok collects everything from search and browsing histories to keystroke patterns and biometric identifiers, including faceprints…and voiceprints.”

“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,”

“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.”

Hours before Buzzfeed published their report, TikTok revealed that it had migrated US user data to Oracle run servers, saying it was committed to protecting the privacy of users in the US.

“We employ access controls like encryption and security monitoring to secure user data, and the access approval process is overseen by our US-based security team,” said a TikTok spokesperson in response to the initial report.

“TikTok has consistently maintained that our engineers in locations outside of the US, including China, can be granted access to US user data on an as-needed basis under those strict controls.”

The New York Post reached out to comment on Carr’s letter, but were simply referred to the initial response to Buzzfeed.

The report in question mentions a “master admin”, a ByteDance engineer who has “access to everything” while coverage of another metting revealed a TikTok Trust and Safety Department worker saying that “everything is seen in China.”

Carr has requested Apple and Google remove the app from their stores by the 8th of July, or provide statements that explain how the app does not violate either of their privacy policies.

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