A leader of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission said he asked Apple and Google to remove TikTok from each of their app stores because of data security concerns over China.
Brendan Carr, a Republican, is one of the FCC’s commissioners.
TikTok, the wildly popular social media platform, is owned by Chinese company ByteDance. The company faced U.S. scrutiny under former President Donald Trump.
Carr was appointed by Trump in 2018 to a five-year term with the FCC.
The FCC cannot regulate apps, but that does not stop it from putting pressure on companies that sell apps.
Carr shared a letter on Twitter that he wrote to the Apple CEO Tim Cook and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai.
“TikTok is not just another video app. That’s the sheep’s clothing,” Carr tweeted, saying that the app harvests “swaths of sensitive data” being accessed by Beijing.
The letter pointed to reports and developments that made TikTok non-compliant with the app store policies of each companies.
Carr said that both companies needed to remove TikTok from their app stores otherwise, they must provide statements to him by July 8.
The statements should explain how the app does not go against any of their store policies, Carr said, calling it “the surreptitious access of private and sensitive U.S. user data by persons located in Beijing.”
Carr also said TikTok has a pattern of “misleading representations and conduct.” Carr says TikTok is a “sophisticated surveillance tool.”
TikTok has called concerns over its data privacy “misleading.” TikTok has denied ever providing user data to China and said it would not do so if asked.
This is not the first time the issue of data privacy has come up for TikTok. In 2020, then-secretary of state Mike Pompeo had said the Trump administration was considering banning all Chinese social media apps, including TikTok, and accused the app of sharing user data with the Chinese government.