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TikTok faces threat as Apple, Google plan removal from stores

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of the United States is beaming its touch light on the operations of a popular video-sharing app, TikTok.

The US had demanded that app stores owned by Google and Apple take down the Chinese app. The long-drawn battle between the American government and TikTok dates back to the administration of Donald Trump.

Trump had directed that TikTok be either deleted or the Chinese app sells its US operation to an American buyer or investor. The administration of the current President, Joe Biden, has also been critical of the video-sharing app.

While Trump banned TikTok in September 2020, resulting in a court case filed by ByteDance, the parent company of the video-sharing app, Biden has chosen the option of stricter regulatory oversight over the firm’s operation.

TikTok has also faced challenges in India, after being permanently banned from the country in January 2021, alongside over 50 other Chinese apps. Bangladesh, Indonesia, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Findings showed that there are one billion TikTok users worldwide. 43.7 percent of TikTok users are aged 18 to 24. 57 per cent of TikTok users are female. The majority of TikTok users are in Southeast Asia, home to 226.8 million of them.

FCC Commissioner, Brendan Carr, on June 24, sent letters to the Chief Executive Officers of Google and Apple, Sundar Pichai and Tim Cook, respectively, where TikTok was accused of harvesting swaths of sensitive data that are being accessed in Beijing, China.

Carr wrote: “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 US users.

TikTok is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance — an organization that is beholden to the Communist Party of China and required by the Chinese law to comply with PRC’s surveillance demands.”

“It is clear that TikTok poses an unacceptable national security risk due to its extensive data harvesting being combined with Beijing’s unchecked access to that sensitive data.

“I am writing to the two of you because Apple and Google hold themselves out as operating app stores that are safe and trusted places to discover and download apps. Nonetheless, Apple and Google have reviewed and approved the TikTok app for inclusion in your respective app stores. Indeed, statistics show that TikTok has been downloaded from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store nearly 19 million times in the first quarter of this year alone.

“It is clear that TikTok poses an unacceptable national security risk due to its extensive data harvesting being combined with Beijing’s unchecked access to that data. Therefore, I am requesting that you apply the plain text of your app store policies to TikTok and remove it from your app stores for failure to abide by those terms.”

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