US lawmaker calls on Apple and Google to ban TikTok from app stores

A US senator is demanding that Apple and Google immediately remove TikTok from their app stores on account of national security concerns.

US Senator for Colorado Michael Bennet wrote a letter Thursday demanding TikTok be permanently banned from the Apple App and Google Play stores due to the risks associated with Chinese government access to the massive amounts of data the social media app collects on its American users.

Bennet, a Democrat on the US Senate Intelligence Committee, addressed the letter directly to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Alphabet Inc. and Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

"No company subject to CCP (Chinese Communist Party) dictates should have the power to accumulate such extensive data on the American people or curate content to nearly a third of our population,” Bennet wrote.

Bennet is concerned that the communist regime could even “weaponize TikTok against the United States.”

"Given these risks, I urge you to remove TikTok from your respective app stores immediately,” the letter stated.

CyberSheath CEO Eric Noonan said using TikTok on your smartphone is “essentially like having a professional car thief valet your car.”

Noonan has been heading the Defense Department cybersecurity compliance firm, for over a decade. He told Cybernews, "the privacy concerns are especially valid because of the apps' Chinese ownership.”

“TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, is required by Chinese law to make the app’s data available to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the CCP has a decades long documented history of successfully targeting US companies and government agencies to steal data and intellectual property,” Noonan said.

TikTok also has a dismal track record when it comes to privacy rights, according to Noonan.

“TikTok, like its social media counterparts, generally has access to things like usernames, ages, phone numbers, email addresses, keystrokes and more. TikTok also settled a $92 million class action lawsuit last year over claims that the app violated the privacy rights of users,” said Noonan.

Bennet’s letter also mentioned TikTok's access to “faceprints and voiceprints” as part of the “vast and sophisticated data” it collected from its users.

US lawmakers passed legislation to ban the app from federal government devices in December 2022 and since then about half of the nation's fifty states have followed suit, banning TikTok from state-issued government devices as well.

Calls for a nationwide ban on TikTok now has support from both US Democrats and Republicans.

Many universities across the US have also taken steps to restrict the app from college campuses.

ByteDance tried to assure lawmakers last spring its contract with the Chinese government protects them from having to turn over sensitive data on American users.

Lawmakers and intelligence analysts have not been not swayed by the company’s claims.

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is expected to testify before Congress next month.

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