Apple and Google Called Upon to Oust TikTok From App Stores – The Hollywood Reporter

Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee said that national security concerns raised Apple’s decision as the Chinese-owned company faces the prospect of an escalating nationwide ban amid bipartisan scrutiny of its data-sharing practices. and Google to remove TikTok from the app store.

In a letter to Senator Michael Bennet, CEO of Apple and Alphabet, D-Colo. TikTok’s popularity stems from the fact that “the Chinese Communist Party has taken TikTok to the United States” by forcing its parent company, ByteDance, to “turn over sensitive data of Americans or manipulate the content Americans receive to further China’s interests.” It raises a clear risk that it could be weaponized against

Governments are increasingly taking action against TikTok’s links with China. In December, President Joe Biden signed a bill banning nearly 4 million public employees from using his TikTok on agency-owned devices. At least 27 state governments have passed similar measures.

There is no evidence that the Chinese government has demanded US user data from TikTok or its parent company or has influenced the content users see on the platform.

In a statement, TikTok said Bennet “relies almost exclusively on misleading reports about TikTok, the data it collects, and its data security controls.” The letter added that it neglected to invest in a plan known as “Project Texas” and was intended to “provide the community with additional assurances about data security and the integrity of his TikTok platform.” bottom.

Reflecting concerns expressed in June by the Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission in a letter to Apple and Google, Bennett highlights TikTok’s data collection practices. He said its scope “allows it to collect extensive data about Americans, including device information, search and browsing history, message content, IP addresses, headshots and voiceprints.” Unlike other tech companies that collect similar data, TikTok is mandated under Chinese law to cooperate with state intelligence operations, which he argues “raises its own concerns.” To do.

TikTok has over 100 million active users. About 36% of Americans over the age of 12 use the platform, spending 80 minutes or more per day on the app. That’s more time than Facebook and Instagram combined. In November, TikTok confirmed that employees based in China could remotely access user data in Europe. The BuzzFeed News report also revealed that employees of the Chinese company had access to US user data.

According to the letter, the data TikTok collects can be used by the Chinese government to advance China’s interests. For example, they could be forced to tweak their algorithms to undermine the democratic system in the United States or to enhance content that “suppresses criticism of the Chinese Communist Party’s policies toward Hong Kong, Taiwan, or the Uyghurs.” There is a nature.

According to a 2022 Pew study, one-third of adult TikTok users report accessing news from the app on a regular basis. Forbes reports on the ability of TikTok staff to “covertly handpick videos and overheat their distribution using a technique known internally as heating.”

To curb criticism of its data-sharing practices, TikTok announced a partnership with Oracle to move US users’ data stored on foreign servers to Texas. The project also includes auditing algorithms and creating a subsidiary called TikTok US Data Security to oversee content moderation policies and approve editorial decisions. US employees report to an independent board of directors.

The U.S. Foreign Investment Commission, which reviews commercial transactions that could threaten national security, is reviewing ByteDance’s 2017 merger of TikTok and This is reminiscent of when former President Donald Trump issued an executive order in 2020 requiring his ByteDance to relinquish ownership of the app (the order was blocked by a federal court). ). After Biden took office, scrutiny of TikTok subsided, but TikTok continued to face legal troubles over its data-sharing practices. In 2021, TikTok agreed to pay $92 million to settle a lawsuit that claims the app secretly transferred vast amounts of user data about children to servers in China.

Anupam Chander, a professor of law and technology at Georgetown University who was briefed by TikTok on Project Texas, said that the US banning TikTok “would encourage apps and services from the US to do the same.” It could inspire other governments.” It seems to me that what satisfies TikTok’s critics is short of sales. ”

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is scheduled to appear before a House committee in March.

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