FCC Commissioner Calls for Apple and Google to Ban TikTok Over 'Surreptitious' Data Practices

The Federal Communications Commission has asked Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores because of its "pattern of surreptitious data practices," reports TechCrunch.

tiktok logo
FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr is said to have written to Apple and Google on Tuesday to make the request, which comes after a BuzzFeed News report last week claimed TikTok staff in China have had access to U.S. users' data despite statements made by the company suggesting otherwise.

"As you know TikTok is an app that is available to millions of Americans through your app stores, and it collects vast troves of sensitive data about those US users. TikTok is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance — an organization that is beholden to the Communist Party of China and required by the Chinese law to comply with PRC's surveillance demands," Carr said in a letter addressed to Sundar Pichai and Tim Cook.

"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."

TikTok has historically responded to data privacy concerns by promising that the data of users in the United States is stored in the U.S., rather than China, where the app's parent company ByteDance is located. However, according to BuzzFeed News, TikTok staff in China had access to U.S. user data up until January 2022. The claim contradicts testimony given by a TikTok executive under sworn oath in an October 2021 Senate hearing that a "world-renowned, US-based security team" decides who gets access to U.S. users' data.

TikTok responded to the report by announcing that it is moving all U.S. users' data to Oracle servers situated in the country. The company said it uses its own U.S. and Singapore-based servers for backup, but in future it expects to "delete U.S. users' private data from our own data centers and fully pivot to Oracle cloud servers located in the U.S."

"We're also making operational changes in line with this work – including the new department we recently established, with US-based leadership, to solely manage US user data for TikTok," the company added.

TikTok's user data practices have been a point of controversy for several years now, and former U.S. President Donald Trump signed several executive orders banning apps tied to China during his time in office. In the most high profile order, Trump sought a ban of the short-form video app TikTok in 2020.

However, Trump's bans were never enforced after several court orders blocked the restrictions, despite claims by the Trump administration that the apps posed a risk to national security.

In June 2021, President Joe Biden revoked the executive orders that Trump issued in August, which attempted to force ByteDance to divest TikTok to a U.S. company, along with another one that targeted several other messaging and financial transaction apps including Alipay and WeChat Pay. Instead, the Biden administration has said it is taking an "evidence-based approach" when reviewing the security concerns posed by apps.

Biden's executive order states that the collecting of data from Americans "threatens to provide foreign adversaries with access to that information," and directs the Commerce Department to continually evaluate any transactions that "pose an undue risk of catastrophic effects on the security or resiliency of the critical infrastructure or digital economy of the United States."

Note: Due to the political or social nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Political News forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Tag: TikTok

Top Rated Comments

Jason2000 Avatar
7 weeks ago
They should have listened to Trump. And yes please ban this stupid app.
Score: 64 Votes (Like | Disagree)
HappyDude20 Avatar
7 weeks ago
TikTok shouldn’t be an App that you have installed on your phone in the first place.
Score: 52 Votes (Like | Disagree)
genovelle Avatar
7 weeks ago

They should have listened to Trump. And yes please ban this stupid app.
I think the executive order method was flawed and lost in court. Using the FCC is a more appropriate venue for such a battle and may be more effective.
Score: 30 Votes (Like | Disagree)
winxmac Avatar
7 weeks ago
Meta/Facebook apps to follow, maybe? Google apps as well, maybe?
Score: 29 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Corsig Avatar
7 weeks ago
Biden should have left that order stand instead of revoking it. Looks like the evidence waiting approached proved trump was right all along
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
macmyworld Avatar
7 weeks ago
But TikTok has moved their data to the US. There is no way they could access sensitive data in China now ;)
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

tiktok logo

TikTok Says Some China-Based Employees Can Access U.S. User Data, Outlines Plan for Better Safeguards

Friday July 1, 2022 2:12 pm PDT by
TikTok is working on a plan to better safeguard the data of its U.S. users, the company said in an open letter [PDF] to several U.S. Senators that have expressed concern that the China-based app is a national security risk. Shared by The New York Times, the letter outlines a multi-pronged undertaking called "Project Texas," aimed at strengthening data security. TikTok says that 100 percent...
google app safety

Google Launches Privacy Labels for Google Play Apps

Tuesday April 26, 2022 9:08 am PDT by
Google today followed in Apple's footsteps and launched a version of privacy labels for its own apps, with the aim of providing Google Play users with more information about the data that the apps they download are collecting. First announced back in May 2021, Google's "Data safety" section will require developers to provide information about how their apps collect, share, and secure user...
pegatron logo small

Apple Supplier Pegatron Denies Reports of China Blocking Shipments

Friday August 5, 2022 3:00 am PDT by
Apple supplier Pegatron has denied media reports claiming shipments to and from its factories in China were being held for scrutiny by Chinese customs officials, following a Pegatron executive's meeting with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (via DigiTimes). In a filing with the Taiwan Stock Exchange, the company indicated that iPhone production at its China-based sites is continuing as normal ...
iOS App Store General Feature Black

Apple's App Store Comes Under the Spotlight for How It Handles Fake Crypto Apps

Friday July 29, 2022 5:40 am PDT by
Apple's App Store is now coming under the spotlight for how it handles fake crypto apps that scam investors who think they're investing in real, legitimate cryptocurrencies. In a letter addressed to Apple CEO Tim Cook, the chairman of the U.S. Senate on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, Sherrod Brown, inquires about the steps Apple takes in vetting, reviewing, and removing crypto apps...
General App Store South Korea Feature Feature

Apple's App Store Practices Again to Be Investigated in South Korea, Despite Change to Allow Third-Party Payment Systems

Tuesday August 9, 2022 4:51 am PDT by
Apple is to again be investigated by South Korea's telecommunications regulator, alongside Google and One Store, over suspected violations of in-app payment rules. In a statement (via Reuters), the Korea Communications Commissions (KCC) said that it conducted an inspection of Apple, Google, and One Store since May 17 to determine if they have violated in-app payment laws, and concluded that...
tim cook privacy conference

Apple CEO Tim Cook Writes Letter to U.S. Senate Supporting Strong Privacy Legislation

Friday June 10, 2022 9:36 am PDT by
Apple CEO Tim Cook today wrote a letter to the U.S. Senate advocating for strong privacy legislation at the federal level. The letter appears to be in response to a proposed bipartisan bill titled the "American Data Privacy and Protection Act" that would outline the types of data companies can collect from individuals and how they can use it. The letter, obtained by MacRumors, is addressed...
google logo

Google Went Down For Around 30 Minutes Due to Server Errors

Monday August 8, 2022 6:48 pm PDT by
Google went down briefly starting around 9:15 p.m. Eastern Time on Monday, with over 45,000 users flagging the issue on the website DownDetector.com. The outage resulted in search results failing to load due to server errors. One of the search engine's various error messages read as follows:Server Error We're sorry but it appears that there has been an internal server error while...
generic tracking prompt orange

U.S. Senators Urge FTC to Investigate Apple for 'Transforming Online Advertising Into an Intense System of Surveillance'

Friday June 24, 2022 8:19 am PDT by
In a letter sent to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) chair Lina Khan today, four U.S. legislators said the FTC should "investigate Apple and Google's role in transforming online advertising into an intense system of surveillance," according to The Wall Street Journal. Apple and Google "knowingly facilitated harmful practices by building advertising-specific tracking IDs into their mobile...

Popular Stories

airpods pro black background

AirPods Pro 2: Five New Features and Improvements to Expect

Sunday August 14, 2022 3:28 pm PDT by
Apple's second-generation AirPods Pro are finally nearing launch, with a release expected later this year. If you are considering upgrading to the new AirPods Pro once they are released, keep reading for a list of five new features to expect. In addition to all-new features, the second-generation AirPods Pro will likely adopt some features added to the standard AirPods last year. H2 Chip ...
10th Generation iPad Render

10th-Generation iPad With Major Design Changes Reportedly in Production Ahead of September Launch

Monday August 15, 2022 8:02 pm PDT by
Apple's rumored 10th-generation iPad is currently in production and will feature "major" design changes, according to a report from Taiwanese website DigiTimes. A mockup of the potential 10th-generation iPad design by Renders By Shailesh The report did not provide any specific details about the 10th-generation iPad's new design, but rumors suggest the device will feature a larger 10.5-inch...
ios 16 lock screen feature2

Apple Seeds Sixth Betas of iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 to Developers [Update: Public Beta Available]

Monday August 15, 2022 10:04 am PDT by
Apple today seeded the sixth betas of upcoming iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 updates to developers for testing purposes, with the updates coming a week after Apple released the fifth developer betas. Registered developers can download the iOS and iPadOS 16 profiles from the Apple Developer Center, and once installed, the betas will be available over the air. iOS 16 introduces a revamped Lock...
iPhone 14 Dummies 1 Feature

Everything Rumored for Apple's September Event: iPhone 14, Apple Watch Pro and More

Friday August 12, 2022 2:34 pm PDT by
There's just about a month to go until Apple holds its annual September event focusing on new iPhone and Apple Watch models. We thought we'd take a quick look at everything that's rumored for Apple's September event to give MacRumors readers a rundown on what to expect when the first fall event rolls around. iPhone 14 The iPhone 14 can probably be described more as an "iPhone 13S" because...
apple watch se

Apple Watch SE vs. Apple Watch Series 8: New Features to Expect If You've Waited to Upgrade

Monday August 15, 2022 2:44 am PDT by
The Apple Watch SE was announced in September 2020 and has been a popular Apple Watch model for customers looking for their first smartwatch or an affordable Apple Watch. Apple Watch SE customers may be wondering, however, what's in store for them with the upcoming Apple Watch Series 8 and what new features they can expect. Continue reading to find out. Apple Watch SE vs. Apple Watch Series ...
Apple Watch Series 3 v 8 1

Apple Watch Series 3 vs. Apple Watch Series 8: 20 Major New Features and Changes for Customers Upgrading

Tuesday August 16, 2022 6:52 am PDT by
It's crazy to think about, but next month will mark five years since Apple announced the Apple Watch Series 3. Despite being a severely antiquated smartwatch, the Series 3 has remained at the bottom of Apple's lineup for $199. Suppose you're still holding on to your Apple Watch Series 3. In that case, this article will list all the major new features and changes you'll get if you decide to...
iPhone 14 Pro Lineup Feature Purple

Apple Planning to Hold iPhone 14 Event on September 7

Wednesday August 17, 2022 9:51 am PDT by
Apple is aiming to hold its first fall event on Wednesday, September 7, reports Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. The event will focus on the iPhone 14 models and the Apple Watch Series 8. The standard iPhone 14 models are expected to get few changes, but the iPhone 14 Pro models will include updated camera technology, the removal of the notch in favor of a pill-shaped and hole-punch cutout, an A16...