FCC commissioner wants Apple, Google to remove TikTok from App Stores | #itsecurity | #infosec

FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr has written to Apple and Google to request that both companies remove the incredibly popular TikTok app from their stores, citing a threat to national security.

Is your data going TikTok?

Carr warns the app collects huge quantities of data and cited a recent report that claimed the company has accessed sensitive data collected from Americans. He argues that TikTok’s, “pattern of conduct and misrepresentations regarding the unfettered access that persons in Beijing have to sensitive U.S. data…puts it out of compliance,” with App Store security and privacy policies.

He warns that TikTok functions as a sophisticated surveillance tool that harvests extensive amounts of personal and sensitive data. He claims it collects:

  • Search and browsing histories.
  • Keystroke pattens.
  • Biometric identifiers, including faceprints and voiceprints.
  • Location data.
  • Draft messages.
  • Metadata
  • The text, images, and videos stored on a device’s clipboard.
  • And more…

In his letter, the commissioner provides some evidence to support his argument that TikTok fails to adhere to Apple and Google’s security practices — for example, researchers in 2020 claimed the app might be able to access sensitive data, including passwords, crypto wallet addresses and messages.

Security, politics and hype

Carr points out that US government and national security agencies are either urging or mandating the removal of the TikTok app from devices; India has banned the app on national security grounds; and some businesses have already banned its use on company devices.

At the same time, there continue to be mainstream reports to support the service. For example, one of the UK’s leading newspapers, the Evening Standard, today leads with a report explaining who the most followed people on TikTok are. The numbers are staggering: Khaby Lame has 142.8 million followers on the service. The most viewed video on TikTok ever, Zach King’s Harry Potter Illusion video generated 2.2 billion views.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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