TikTok is “Unacceptable Security Risk” and Should be Removed from App Stores

by contentwriter

Author: Valery Zulia

FCC commissioner, Brendan Carr urged Apple and Google CEOs to remove TikTok from their app marketplaces. 

TikTok creates an extreme national security risk because of its data collection and privacy breach, said Carr in a letter to Tim Cook and Sundar Pichai, dated June 24, 2022.

Excessive Gathering of Information

According to reports, TikTok gathers “everything,” including search and browser history, keystroke patterns, biometric identifiers—including voiceprints and faceprints that may be useful in “unrelated facial recognition technology”—location information, and other data. Carr mentioned several cases as proof that TikTok’s data gathering methods have been suspicious.

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Relation to the Communist Party of China

TikTok was created by the Beijing-based business ByteDance. In China, you may know it as Douyin. In the letter Carr wrote to Apple and Google, he stated that ByteDance “is beholden to the Communist Party of China and obligated by Chinese law to cooperate with the PRC’s monitoring demands.”

Members of the Senate and House committees, cybersecurity experts, privacy advocates, and civil rights organizations have raised this concern. In 2019, two senators identified TikTok as a “possible counterintelligence threat that cannot be ignored”.

The “vague” regulations of the social platform, particularly regarding collecting and exploiting biometric data, worry the American Civil Liberties Union.

Use Of The Collected Data is Unclear

App owners should be transparent about their data collection practices. They must also explain how they use the data collected. However, TikTok does not appear to be one of those applications that disobey this clause.

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“Numerous regulations of the Apple App Store and Google Play Store regulations are pertinent to TikTok’s pattern of covert data practices—a pattern that runs counter to its repeated claims,” the letter states. Section 5.1.2 (i) of the Apple App Store Review Guidelines specifies that an app developer must make information about how and where user data will be available. Collected data should only be shared with third parties to enhance the app or deliver advertising.

Is TikTok an Advanced Surveillance Tool?

TikTok didn’t ignore the FCC’s request to have TikTok removed from popular app marketplaces. 

In an interview with CNN, American government technology policy advisor and vice president at Tiktok, Michael Beckerman, challenged many of the FCC’s allegations against the social media platform. He said that Carr is not a specialist on these matters and that the FCC lacks competence over national security.

Also, a member of TikTok’s trust and safety department claimed that “Everything is visible in China.” In another session, a director allegedly asserted that a Chinese-speaking coworker was a “Master Admin” with “access to everything.” 

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Some experts believe that TikTok poses a severe security risk because of its lack of privacy controls. They argue that the app collects data from its users without their consent, and the use of these data are not completely disclosed. Presently, there is a lot of uproar about TikTok data collection and usage. Even though the company claims users’ data is safe with them and tries its best to be trusted, it might be hard to win some users back. 

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