TikTok is in hot water over security concerns once again. Federal Communication Commission board member Brendan Carr shared a letter Wednesday in which he asked both Apple and Google to remove the TikTok application from their respective app stores. Carr's letter says TikTok has a pattern of "surreptitious data practices," detailing the data it manages to capture from its users.
"TikTok collects everything from search and browsing histories to keystroke patterns and biometric identifiers, including faceprints—which researchers have said might be used in unrelated facial recognition technology—and voice prints," Carr writes. "It collects location data as well as draft messages and metadata, plus it has collected the text, images, and videos that are stored on a device's clipboard."
It's not the first time the popular mobile app has been the target of United States officials. In 2020, then-president Donald Trump signed a ban prohibiting companies from doing business with ByteDance, the Chinese parent company behind the app. At the time, ByteDance had orchestrated a deal that'd essentially allow Oracle to oversee the app's operations in the country. The ban was subsequently lifted after President Joe Biden entered office in 2021.
In a follow-up tweet, Carr adds TikTok's data collection practices are a direct violation of the policies implemented by both Apple and Google.
"Numerous provisions of Apple's Google's policies are relevant to TikTok's pattern of surreptitious data harvesting—a pattern that runs contrary to its public representations," the official continues. "And there's plenty of precedent for holding TikTok accountable by booting it from these app stores."
In his letter, Carr gives both companies a deadline of July 8th to remove the app from stores.
"There is ample precedent for removing TikTok from the app stores too," Carr adds. "In 2018, for instance, Apple removed an app titled Adware Doctor from the Mac App Store because it collected user data and sent it to a server located in China without user consent. Simiarly, Google recently pulled dozens of apps from the Google Play Store after concluding that they used a software element that surreptitiously harvest data."
He concludes. "If you do not removed TikTok from your app stores, please provided separate responses to me by July 8, 2022, explaining the basis for your company's conclusions that the surreptitious access of private and sensitive US user data by persons located in Beijing, coupled with TikTok's pattern of misleading representations and conduct, does not run afoul of any of your app store policies."