TikTok is a wolf in sheep’s clothing – FCC commissioner call for US ban
Brendan Carr, Senior US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner, wants TikTok gone from Apple App and Google Play stores.
Carr stated that TikTok is not just another video app. “That’s the sheep’s clothing. It harvests swaths of sensitive data that new reports show Beijing has access to it.“
You can read Carr’s letter to Apple and Google (June 29 Twitter Post). Carr is relying on Apple and Google to uphold their App Stores policies on privacy and surreptitious data collection.
Carr’s investigations shows it collects
- User demographic data
- Search and browsing histories
- Keystroke patterns
- Biometric identifiers, facial recognition, and voice prints
- Draft and sent messages
- Metadata (who you interact with)
- Text, images, and videos on a device’s clipboard
- User sentiment, opinions, attitudes and more (from what you watch)
- Device, location, IP address and more
- Access to smartphones contacts and data
TikTok’s pattern of misrepresentations, coupled with its ownership by an entity beholden to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party), has resulted in U.S. military branches and National Security Agencies banning it from government devices. Bipartisan leaders in both the Senate and House have flagged concerns.
Carr was reacting to BuzzFeed’s report that leaked audio from 80 internal TikTok meetings shows that US user data has been repeatedly accessed from China.
The company hurriedly announced that it had migrated its US user data to domestic servers run by Oracle. But that ignores the question of admitted access by Chinese employees to U.S. user data from at least September 2021 to January 2022.
This is not the first time that TikTok has been under the microscope. In 2020, then-President Donald Trump signed an executive order demanding that parent company ByteDance divest from TikTok under the threat of a ban in the U.S. At the time, the White House cited national security concerns. Microsoft was the logical buyer until TikTok refused to supply its top-secret algorithms.
Companies using TikTok for instructional or training purposes have had internal data compromised.
TiKTok is a Chinese company beholden to CCP laws
- China’s vague patchwork of intelligence, national security, and cybersecurity laws compel Chinese companies to support and cooperate with intelligence work controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.
- The CCP has instructed TikTok to limit what users can see, including content related to pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and the treatment of the minority Uighur population.
- TikTok is a CCP vehicle to influence foreign government election campaigns and outcomes.
- TikTok is an opportunity for the CCP to use algorithms to manipulate Americans to push an authoritarian agenda. “A Trojan horse the Chinese Communist Party can use to influence what Americans see, hear, and ultimately think. TikTok influences Americans’ commercial, cultural, or political behaviour”.
- By its content, design and promotion (boosting user engagement) to kids and teens, “TikTok causes or exacerbates physical and mental health harms.”