One of the leaders of the Federal Communications Commission is urging Apple and Google to ban TikTok, which he says "harvests swaths of sensitive data that new reports show are being accessed in Beijing." Brendan Carr, one of the FCC's four current commissioners, made the request to pull TikTok from app stores in a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Sunder Pichal, CEO of Google parent company Alphabet, CNBC reports. "TikTok is not what it appears to be on the surface. It is not just an app for sharing funny videos or meme. That’s the sheep’s clothing," he wrote. "At its core, TikTok functions as a sophisticated surveillance tool that harvests extensive amounts of personal and sensitive data."
"It is clear that TikTok poses an unacceptable national security risk" because of "Beijing’s apparently unchecked access" to huge amount of data, Carr wrote, adding that the company's conduct "puts it out of compliance with policies that both of your companies require every app to adhere to as a condition of remaining available on your app stores." BuzzFeed reported earlier this month that China-based employees of ByteDance, TikTok's parent company, had repeatedly accessed data on the platform's American users. Carr referenced the report in his letter. The FCC doesn't regulate app stores and the companies are not obliged to grant Carr's request.
TikTok—which provided assurances that US data would be safe when former President Trump tried to ban it in 2020—says it now routes "100% of US user traffic to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure" and is working on "additional safeguards" for US data. Carr is one of three Trump-appointed FCC commissioners, but the agency's agenda is set by Jessica Rosenworcel, its Democratic chairwoman, the Washington Post reports. The FCC normally has five commissioners, but congressional Republicans have blocked the confirmation of Gigi Sohn, another nominee of President Biden. (Read more TikTok stories.)