An FCC regulator wants TikTok removed from app stores. Here’s how a business manager reacted

But a TikTok leader, in a rare interview on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” on Sunday, claimed that there are no security issues associated with the hugely successful app.

The short video app is the most downloaded in the world, beating Instagram with 3.5 billion downloads. Users spend an average of at least 46 minutes a day on the app, sending the storm past competitors.

On the surface, TikTok is absolutely cheerful, allowing users to share content including dance videos and cooking tutorials. But critics believe something more scary may be embedded in the model, claiming that the power comes from data collection and algorithms.

TikTok is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, which means that the company is mainly under the control of the Chinese government, said CNN̵[ads1]7;s chief media correspondent Brian Stelter.

Bytedance has promised to host US data on servers in the US to allay concerns. But an explosive Buzzfeed News report published two weeks ago revealed that, according to leaked audio from internal meetings, engineers in China were repeatedly able to access US user data.

FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr told Stelter that lawmakers had asked TikTok directly if any data would be accessed by Beijing. Instead of being upfront, he said, the company has repeatedly said that all US user data is stored in the US.

“And it’s not just a national security issue, but to me it looks like a breach of the terms in the app store,” Carr said. He has written a letter to Google and Apple asking them to start TikTok out of theirs app stores, giving them until July 8 to respond.

The FCC does not have jurisdiction over social media, Stelter pointed out. But Carr said the FCC has developed an understanding of how the Chinese government can take data and infiltrate communications.

'Watchdog mothers' at TikTok try to keep minors safe

The allegations that TikTok collects browser history are “simply untrue”, said Michael Beckerman, head of public policy, Americas, at TikTok. He also said that while the app scans your face for filters, it does not use it to identify individuals.

Stelter asked if any members of the Chinese Communist Party had seen non-public TikTok user data. “The answer is that we have never shared information with the Chinese government, nor would we,” Beckerman said, adding that they have US-based security teams.

“Are TikTok’s engineers, the people who develop this tool, make this tool, are they linked to China, and is it a threat to the United States?” asked Stelter again.

“No, absolutely not. TikTok is not a security threat,” Beckerman said, adding that TikTok is willing to be transparent and cooperate with stakeholders.

The Buzzfeed report also said there was concern that China could use TikTok to “influence American commercial, cultural or political behavior.”

TikTok adds options to encourage users to take a break from endless scrolling

“Yeah, I just do not see it,” Beckerman said, adding that the videos he sees are all from American creators.

Beckerman said that the app does not allow political ads and that it is primarily a platform for entertainment. Stelter pointed out surveys from The Wall Street Journal that revealed “rabbit hole” users go down on topics such as eating disorders. “(Harmful content) is a problem for the internet as a whole,” Beckerman said.

“This is something we have worked very hard to eliminate on our platform. Anything that is dangerous or harmful violates our community guidelines.”

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