FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr says Apple and Google need to remove TikTok from their respective app stores, citing in a tweet "its pattern of surreptitious data practices."
Carr is a big critic of Big Tech.
Specifically, Carr was referencing a BuzzFeed News report that officials of TikTok's Bytedance parent in China had repeatedly been able to access sensitive data of Americans after they downloaded the app from their stores.
In a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google (Alphabet) CEO Sundar Pichai, Carr said that Apple and Google have represented their stores as safe and trusted spaces to "discover and download" apps, and yet have vetted and approved TikTok, the wildly popular short-form video app -- 1.2 billion monthly active users as of the fourth quarter 2021, according to one estimate.
But Carr says that TikTok's fun video or meme sharing exterior is sheep's clothing for a sophisticated surveillance tool.
"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," Carr wrote.
Carr also pointed out that there is bipartisan concern about TikTok's ties to China combined with the data it uses. For example, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Mo.), both Big Tech critics but poles apart politically, have both expressed their concern that TikTok is a national security risk.
And the concern goes beyond national security and privacy.
State attorneys general have launched an investigation into TikTok and what they said is its design and promotion of social media for kids and teens that "causes or exacerbates physical and mental health harms." ■
Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.
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