The US government again wants to ban this application suspected of being a surveillance tool in the service of the Chinese Communist Party.
The tone is rising in the United States vis-à-vis TikTok, a Chinese app with growing popularity, which allows you to broadcast (and watch) funny videos. Brendan Carr, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), sent a missive Apple and Google CEOs Tim Cook and Sundar Pichai asking them to remove TikTok from their respective app stores. And if they do not, Brendan Carr gives them until July 8 to explain this refusal to comply. In short, it’s no joke.
A “Master Admin” in Beijing
This new action of defiance towards TikTok results, this time, from a survey carried out by BuzzFeed and which Brendan Carr quotes explicitly in his letter. Indeed, the website managed to get its hands on the recordings of more than 80 internal ByteDance meetings about TikTok. They reveal that the publisher’s Chinese engineers accessed US user data between September 2021 and January 2022, and that there is even someone in Beijing who is a “Master Admin”, able “to access everything”and this while “TikTok has repeatedly explained that data collected on Americans will be stored in the United States”underlines the president of the FCC, who sees in this app only a Chinese snitch.
“TikTok is not what it seems. It’s not just an app for sharing funny videos or memes. That’s the lamb disguise. Basically, TikTok functions as a sophisticated surveillance tool that harvests a significant amount of personal and sensitive data. Indeed, TikTok collects everything from search and browsing history to keystrokes and biometric identifiers (…) It collects geolocation data as well as draft messages and metadata. And it also collects text, images and videos stored in the device’s clipboard”can we read in the letter.
This distrust of TikTok is not new. In August 2020, Donald Trump had already signed a presidential decree aimed at prohibiting all economic relations with ByteDance, the publisher of this application, because of this alleged siphoning. But in June 2021, Joe Biden finally reversed that ban. It must be said that TikTok had entered into a partnership with Oracle to be able to store the data of American users. But, as the article of BuzzFeed seems to show, this project is far from clear. Finally, we do not really know what data is actually stored and, above all, who can access it. The future of TikTok in the United States is therefore not assured.