A TikTok ban across Google and Apple app stores is being aggressively pushed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner. This is due to the fresh privacy concerns revealed within the Chinese-owned short-form video app.
In his statement, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said, “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.”
In context, data can be harvested in different ways, ranging from simple copy-and-pasting to more complicated programming. This is critical, especially in social media, where sensitive and personal information and behavior have commercial and political influence and value. Based on leaked audio from internal TikTok meetings, engineers in China have been repeatedly accessing non-public data of US TikTok users between September 2021 and January 2022.
These potential dangers show a need for better user privacy safeguards, because regulations that protect people’s personal data from technology companies are sorely lacking, pointed out Northeastern professors.
Being under government scrutiny since Donald Trump, federal agencies comply with a TikTok ban on any form of device. And following the recent information disclosed, the US-China war is once again brewing from the risks of using an app that has been downloaded in the US from the Apple and Google app stores nearly 19 million times in Q1 2022 alone.
Underscoring TikTok’s failure to comply with data security requirements and other terms set forth by the US-based software discovery platforms, the FCC commissioner requests a Tiktok ban to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai to remove the “sophisticated surveillance tool” on their respective app stores.
Ironically, TikTok also made an announcement that 100% of US user traffic is being routed to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. “We know we are among the most scrutinized platforms from a security standpoint, and we aim to remove any doubt about the security of US user data.”
Despite that, the FCC commissioner stands firm that this does not address the data privacy concerns as it says “nothing about where that data can be accessed from.”
The US is known to restrict China-based tech companies under its territory, fighting its reputation in the technology domain. Earlier this year, the FCC adopted a revocation order that ends the ability of China Unicom (Americas) in providing domestic interstate and international telecom services within the United States.