FCC: TikTok is “Unacceptable Security Risk” and Should be Removed from App Stores

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Author: Garcia Jones

Due to concerns regarding data security, Brendan Carr, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) commissioner, has urged Google and Apple CEOs to withdraw TikTok from their app stores.

The commissioner informed Tim Cook and Sundar Pichai in a letter dated June 24 that TikTok poses an intolerable national risk as a result of its vast data collecting and Beijing’s ostensibly unrestricted access to private information. Carr also stated on Twitter that “TikTok is more than a simple video app. That’s the sheep clothing.”

Let’s elaborate on some of the security vulnerabilities Brendan Carr mentioned.

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What security risks did the FCC commissioner point out?

The extent of data harvesting done by TikTok’s parent firm is one of the primary issues raised by the commissioner. He also mentioned some other national concerns posed by TikTok in his Twitter thread, including:

  • Excessive data collection

TikTok allegedly collects users’ data from search and browser history to biometric identifiers like faceprint, voiceprint, and keyboard patterns. 

They also gather users’ location data, draft texts, and other data. Carr also mentioned multiple events as evidence of TikTok’s unethical data harvesting practices.

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  • Unclear Use of Collected Data

Data collection is not a problem for programs that clarify how they intend to use it. But it looks like TikTok is not among the apps that follow this rule. According to the commissioner’s letter, numerous aspects of the Apple and Google app store regulations apply to TikTok’s habit of shady data activities.

Is TikTok the Only Business that Harvests data?

The head of the FCC claims that TikTok poses a national risk because of data collection. However, businesses like Google, Apple, and Microsoft have collected data for years, so it’s nothing new. Carr, though, seems concerned that the Chinese government is behind the data collection carried out by ByteDance, the parent firm of TikTok.

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According to Barr, ByteDance must abide by the government’s requests for surveillance since it is required to do so by Chinese law. ByteDance has reportedly called the FCC commissioner’s claims “misleading,” claiming that they use access control measures including encryption and security monitoring to protect users’ data.

What Happens if TikTok isn’t Available Anymore?

Security experts believe that might lead to even worse issues. If TikTok is abandoned, any updates won’t be accessible, which increases the danger of compromise because loopholes will be found, exploited, and disseminated online. In 2020, President Trump issued an executive order outlawing TikTok and its companion app WeChat; however, President Biden later overturned the measures. Sources say President Biden instructed the department of commerce to investigate TikTok last year. The department states that the review is still in progress.

Summary

According to the FCC commissioner, TikTok poses a national concern and should be banned from both the Apple and Google app stores. He argues that TikTok’s parent business, ByteDance, conducts massive data harvesting and does not specify the goal of its data collection. Carr, the FCC’s chairman, also contends that because the corporation is based in China, it has little choice but to comply with its surveillance requirements. TikTok, on the other hand, has termed these allegations false, claiming that they have never shared user information with the Chinese government and will never do so.

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