US tech giants Apple and Google have been asked to remove the Chinese-owned TikTok short video platform from their app stores.
Brendan Carr, the leading Republican Party member on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), said TikTok collected sensitive data about US users that could be accessed in China.
Carr revealed details of the letter on Tuesday in a series of posts on Twitter.
“TikTok is not just another video app. That’s the sheep’s clothing,” Carr wrote. “It harvests swaths of sensitive data that new reports show are being accessed in Beijing.”
Carr asked the companies to either remove ByteDance-owned platform from their app stores by July 8 or explain to him why they did not plan to do so.
Carr’s request is unusual given that the FCC does not have clear jurisdiction over the content of app stores. The FCC regulates national security usually through its authority to grant certain communications licences to companies.
A TikTok spokeswoman said the company’s engineers worldwide, including in China, can be granted access to US user data “on an as-needed basis” and under “strict controls.”
Google declined comment on Carr’s letter, while Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
TikTok has been under regulatory scrutiny in Washington over its collection of US personal data.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which reviews deals by foreign acquirers for potential national security risks, ordered ByteDance in 2020 to divest from the platform.
To address these concerns, TikTok said earlier this month that it migrated the information of its American users to servers at US-owned Oracle.
- Reuters, with additional editing by George Russell