FCC commissioner wants TikTok removed from app stores

On Balance with Leland Vittert

CHICAGO (NewsNation) —  Now that TikTok is under a national security review, Brendan Carr — a Republican member of the Federal Communications Commission — is urging the chief executives of Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google to kick the Chinese-owned social media channel out of its app stores.

“I’m deeply concerned about this,” Carr said on Wednesday evening’s “On Balance with Leland Vittert.” “The Biden administration has been undergoing a national security review of TikTok, but frankly, thats been proceeding too slowly.”

His message is akin to the one he sent out on Twitter the night before: “TikTok is not just another video app,” Carr wrote. “That’s the sheep’s clothing. It harvests swaths of sensitive data that new reports show are being accessed in Beijing.”

Not willing to wait on Congress, Carr wrote directly to Apple and Google, informing the tech giants that TikTok has been misrepresenting who can access users’ data, including engineers in Beijing, and that it’s not consistent with the representation to get into the app store.

“So while that security review continues, Apple and Google should step up right now and boot them from the app store for their representation on how data is accessed,” Carr said.

Whether or not they will listen is another thing, as the FCC does not have clear jurisdiction over the content of app stores. However, Carr asked the companies to either remove TikTok from their app stores by July 8 or explain to him why they did not plan to do so.

“I gave them until July to respond. There’s no question that Apple and Google have deep ties into China, whether it’s for manufacturing of the iPhone or Android,” Carr said. “The Chinese government is the world’s best at using this data for nefarious purposes, whether it’s blackmail, business espionage a foreign influence campaign, so we need to put an end to this.”

Unlike Facebook and other American apps, TikTok allegedly collects users’ search and browsing history, keystroke patterns and local data, faceprints and voiceprints, texts, images and video on a device’s clipboard — critical data that could be used for nefarious purposes.

Carr is not the only one ringing the alarm on this front. A group of six Republican senators — Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska), Mike Braun (R-Indiana), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Todd Young (R-Indiana) and Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) — sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in June, demanding answers about actions the Biden administration is taking to combat the national security risks associated with TikTok.

Ultimately, however, Carr feels like the power lies in the hands of the tech giants, who he calls out for their partnership with China.

“There’s some real hypocrisy when it comes (to) Apple in particular. They’ll get out there on the soapbox, talk about human rights and protecting privacy, when they’re literally doing the bidding of the Communist regime, including censorship inside their operations there in China,” he said.

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