Home / News / Remove TikTok from app stores, US senator writes to Apple and Google

A member of the Senate Intelligence Committee has called on Apple and Google to ban video-sharing app TikTok from their app stores, says a Bloomberg report. Democratic Senator Michael Bennet calls TikTok “an unacceptable threat to the national security of the United States".

Bennet has also sent a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai. In the letter, he highlights concerns about the company sharing America's users data with China. He says that China could use its national security laws to force TikTok or its parent, ByteDance, to hand over the personal information of the app’s US users.

“We should accept the very real possibility that [China] could compel TikTok, via ByteDance, to use its influence to advance Chinese government interests," Bennet writes in the letter. “For example, by tweaking its algorithm to present Americans content to undermine U.S. democratic institutions or muffle criticisms," he adds.

In the letter, Bennet warns that China could potentially try to shape what US users see on the app, with possible implications for foreign policy and democracy.

TikTik-parent ByeDance has offices in China. Its founder Zhang Yiming is a Chinese national.

In November 2022, TikTok admitted to European users that their data may be accessed by employees based in China. In December, the company also disclosed that four of its employees in China used the TikTok app to gather information about US journalists including reporters from BuzzFeed, Financial Times and Forbes in an attempt to trace the source of their coverage. The employees looked at IP addresses of journalists and tracked their physical movements.

TikTok, as per Bloomberg report, has denied that it would ever hand over US user data to the Chinese government. Brooke Oberwetter, a TikTok spokesperson said “Unfortunately, Senator Bennet’s letter relies almost exclusively on misleading reporting about TikTok, the data we collect, and our data security controls."

In her statement to Bloomberg, Oberwetter said Bennet’s letter “ignores the considerable investment we have made through Project Texas—a plan negotiated with our country’s top national security experts—to provide additional assurances to our community about their data security and the integrity of the TikTok platform."

TikTok's CEO Shou Zi Chew will appear before a House committee next month to discuss TikTok's data security practices.

(With inputs from Bloomberg)

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