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FCC Commissioner Wants Apple and Google to Ban TikTok — Will They?

Robin Hill-Gray - Author
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Jun. 30 2022, Published 2:23 p.m. ET

The social media app TikTok is under fire once again, but this time by the FCC. An FCC commissioner has challenged the app and the way it collects data. In particular, the commissioner is concerned about who TikTok gives the data to. He has called for Apple and Google to ban the app from their stores. But will they?

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TikTok has been challenged numerous times before. The app grew in popularity over the years due to content creation, and the ability to go viral quickly or become an influencer. But through all the criticism, TikTok has remained a force to be reckoned with.

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What did the FCC say about TikTok?

Brendan Carr took to Twitter where he created a thread on his concerns with TikTok. Carr thinks that Tiktok isn't just another social media app but rather a massive data harvesting app. Carr also claimed that the data within TikTok is being accessed by foreign entities, specifically, China. In a lengthy statement, he addressed both Apple and Google.

Carr wrote, "Last week, an alarming new report shed fresh light on the serious national security threats posed by TikTok. As you know, TikTok is an app that is available to millions of Americans through your app stores, and it collects vast troves of sensitive data about those U.S. users." Carr pointed out that TikTok is owned by ByteDance, which is a company based in Beijing. He says the company is "beholden to the Communist Party of China" and complies with its surveillance measures.

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He pointed to Buzzfeed's leaked audio recordings that reportedly revealed ByteDance executives and officials have access to TikTok data. An official stated, "Everything is seen in China." The FCC commissioner believes that TikTok poses a national security risk to the millions of people that use the application and to the U.S. He calls on both Google and Apple to remove the application from their App stores.

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The U.S. has tried to ban TikTok before.

During his presidency, Donald Trump filed an executive order designed to address the threat posed by TikTok. The executive order claimed that the spread of social media applications that may be designed or owned by the People's Republic of China is a threat to the national security, economy, and foreign policy of the U.S.

Trump soon signed an executive order banning TikTok. It was poised to be a slow burn eventually rendering the app useless. The ban would have taken 45 days to go into effect. However, the ban was blocked by Judge Carl Nichols. The ban was also successfully challenged by a group of TikTok influencers.

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The Biden administration wasted no time scrapping the ban saying that it was a violation of the First Amendment rights. According to The Washington Post, the administration claimed it was committed to protecting the data collected on TikTok. It said, "Certain countries, including the People's Republic of China, do not share these values and seek to leverage digital technologies and American data in ways that present unacceptable national security risks."

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Will Apple and Google ban TikTok?

A spokesperson for TikTok, Brooke Oberwetter, didn't directly address the FCC commissioner's letter but said that TikTok is open to "setting the record straight" and addressing any concerns that the public or regulatory authorities may have about how it uses the data on the applications.

While Carr's statement creates discussion and brings scrutiny to the TikTok app, the FCC technically can't shut down applications. According to The Washington Post, the FCC doesn't regulate mobile applications. Neither Apple nor Google have made public statements about whether or not they plan to ban the application.

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