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Calls For TikTok To Be Banned On Phones In The US Over Fears China Is 'Accessing User Data'

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Calls For TikTok To Be Banned On Phones In The US Over Fears China Is 'Accessing User Data'

There has been a big call for TikTok to be banned on Apple and Android phones in the US over fears China is 'accessing user data'.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner, Brendan Carr, has urged tech companies to remove TikTok from their American app stores.

The FCC Commissioner took to Twitter to encourage the major phone companies to pull the app due to national security concerns following a Buzzfeed investigation.

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"TikTok is not just another video app. That’s the sheep’s clothing," Carr said.

"It harvests swaths of sensitive data that new reports show are being accessed in Beijing."

"I’ve called on Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores for its pattern of surreptitious data practices."

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In another tweet, he added that TikTok is mining much more than dumb dance videos.

"It collects search and browsing histories, keystroke patterns, biometric identifiers, draft messages and metadata, plus it has collected the text, images, and videos that are stored on a device's clipboard," Carr said.

TikTok is banned on US government devices in an attempt to limit clandestine investigation by China.

The developers behind TikTok, ByteDance, are partly owned by the Chinese state and have previously been criticised for its ties with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

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ByteDance's links to the CCP means that the Chinese government could potentially use TikTok for 'data espionage' against US citizens, regardless of where the data is kept.

Buzzfeed's investigation obtained leaked audio from more than 80 internal TikTok meetings.

Their investigation uncovered that employees based in China have repeatedly accessed non-public data about US TikTok users.

As per Buzzfeed, one member of TikTok’s Trust and Safety department in 2021 said 'everything is seen in China'.

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In another 2021 meeting, a Beijing-based engineer was referred to as the 'master admin' who 'has access to everything'.

Another recording revealed conversations between employees who are responsible for certain in-app tools.

But those responsible for certain TikTok tools did not understand fully what certain parts within the app actually did.

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"Nobody has really documented, uh, like, a how-to. And there are items within the tools that nobody knows what they’re for," one of the recordings obtained by Buzzfeed said.

It is this clandestine behaviour that caused former President Donald Trump to threaten to ban TikTok in the US.

A TikTok spokesperson told LADbible back in 2020: "These are the facts: 100 million Americans come to TikTok for entertainment and connection, especially during the pandemic. We've hired nearly 1,000 people to our US team this year alone, and are proud to be hiring another 10,000 employees into great paying jobs across the US.

"Our $1 billion creator fund supports US creators who are building livelihoods from our platform.

"TikTok US user data is stored in the US, with strict controls on employee access. TikTok's biggest investors come from the US.

"We are committed to protecting our users' privacy and safety as we continue working to bring joy to families and meaningful careers to those who create on our platform."

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: News, China, TikTok, US News

Rachel Lang
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