A US FCC commissioner urges Apple and Google to launch TikTok from app stores

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK, June 29 (Reuters) – A Republican member of the Federal Communications Commission has urged the chief executives of Apple Inc. (AAPL.O) and Alphabet Incs (GOOGL.O) Google kicks Chinese TikTok out of its app stores.

Brendan Carr, the FCC commissioner, said in a letter to CEOs dated June 24 and sent on FCC letterhead that the video-sharing app TikTok has collected massive amounts of sensitive data about US users that can be accessed by ByteDance- staff in Beijing. ByteDance is the Chinese parent company of TikTok.

Carr tweeted details of the letter on Tuesday.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

“TikTok isn’t just any video app. That’s sheep’s clothing,” Carr said on Twitter. “It collects pieces of sensitive data that new reports show are being used in Beijing.”

Carr asked the companies to remove TikTok from their app stores before July 8 or explain to him why they didn’t intend to.

Carr’s request is unusual as the FCC has no clear jurisdiction over app store content. The FCC usually regulates the national security space through its authority to grant certain communications licenses to companies.

A TikTok spokeswoman said the company’s engineers at locations outside the United States, including China, can access U.S. user data “when needed” and under “strict controls.”

Google declined to comment on Carr’s letter, while Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

TikTok is overseen by the US regulatory authorities regarding the collection of US personal data. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which assesses foreign buyer deals for potential national security risks, has ordered ByteDance to divest TikTok in 2020 over fears that U.S. user data could be passed on to the Chinese communist government.

To allay these concerns, TikTok said earlier this month it has migrated its US users’ information to servers at Oracle Corp. (ORCL.N) read more

A spokesman for the US Treasury Department, which chairs CFIUS, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“What we’re seeing here from Commissioner Carr is a suggestion that at least some parts of the US government think this isn’t enough,” said Richard Sofield, a national security partner at law firm Vinson & Elkins LLP, of TikTok’s partnership with Oracle.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Reporting by Diane Bartz in Washington, DC, and Echo Wang in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *