Dandy Cat

Delete TikTok from app stores, says FCC commissioner to Apple and Google

From Ben Lovejoy at 9to5Mac:

An FCC commissioner has called on both Apple and Google to delete TikTok from their respective app stores, giving the companies until July 8 to respond. […]

The lengthy four-page letter says that TikTok is not a video-sharing app, but a “sophisticated surveillance tool” for the Chinese government …

That’s a pretty damning but unsurprising development in the continuing U.S. vs. TikTok skirmish. Where it concerns this issue, the next week and a half is going to be interesting. I imagine it’s relatively rare that the U.S. government passes such a weighty edict to companies like Apple and Google (although that’s undoubtedly going to become more frequent).

These days, it also feels rare for the federal government to do much of anything beneficial. I’ll admit that recent events have left me feeling bitter about the whole organization. One need also only look back at the previous administration, and its FCC chairman,1 to form a clear understanding of my disillusionment and that of many others.

However, considering what was detailed in the the BuzzFeed News report that the FCC letter references, this feels like a positive step.

By Emily Baker-White:

For years, TikTok has responded to data privacy concerns by promising that information gathered about users in the United States is stored in the United States, rather than China, where ByteDance, the video platform’s parent company, is located. But according to leaked audio from more than 80 internal TikTok meetings, China-based employees of ByteDance have repeatedly accessed nonpublic data about US TikTok users. […]

Despite a TikTok executive’s sworn testimony in an October 2021 Senate hearing that a “world-renowned, US-based security team” decides who gets access to this data, nine statements by eight different employees describe situations where US employees had to turn to their colleagues in China to determine how US user data was flowing. US staff did not have permission or knowledge of how to access the data on their own, according to the tapes.

I’ve never been so proud and relieved to have not downloaded and given my personal information to an app. Call me a Luddite or out of touch, but at least the dire issue presented in the BuzzFeed report and this subsequent FCC letter has never been a concern for me.

Count me among the people who believe the world would be better off if social media services of the size and scope of TikTok weren’t so easily accessible.

  1. As always, fuck Ajit Pai. ↩︎