The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) head Brendan Carr has written to Apple and Google requesting them to remove the Chinese short-video making platform TikTok from their respective app stores for "its pattern of surreptitious data practices".
In his letter, Carr said TikTok "harvests swaths of sensitive data that new reports show is being accessed in Beijing".
"As you know TikTok is an app available to millions of Americans through your app stores, and it collects vast troves of sensitive data about those US users," he informed Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai in the letter.
"TikTok is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance - an organisation beholden to the Communist Party of China and required by the Chinese law to comply with PRC's surveillance demands," he noted.
Last week, BuzzFeed News reported that ByteDance's employees have repeatedly accessed data about US TikTok users.
The report cited leaked audio from more than 80 internal TikTok meetings and said engineers in China had access to US data between September 2021 and January 2022.
"It is clear that TikTok poses an unacceptable national security risk due to its extensive data harvesting combined with Beijing's apparently unchecked access to that sensitive data," said Carr.
Apple and Google were yet to react to Carr's letter.
This is not the first time that TikTok's user data practices have come under suspicion.
Reacting to the latest controversy, a TikTok spokesperson said the company aims to remove any doubt about the security of US users' data.
"That's why we hire experts in their fields, who continually work to validate our security standards and bring in reputable, independent third-parties to test our defenses," the spokesperson was quoted in reports.
In 2020, India banned TikTok over national security concerns, and both Donald Trump and his successor Joe Biden have raised questions about the short video app's relations with China and how it affects US users' data.
Recently, TikTok said it moved US users' data to Oracle servers within the country.
In a blog post, the company said it has "changed the default storage location of US users' data" to Oracle and that "100% of US user traffic" is now hosted by the cloud provider.
Source: The Economic Times
BDST: 1631 HRS, JULY 01, 2022