“Surreptitious Data Practices” Has TikTok in the FCC’s Crosshairs

Jason McMannis
August 11, 2022
FCC Urges Google, Apple to Remove TikTok

U.S. Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr wants Apple and Google to ban TikTok from their app stores. The request follows a recent BuzzFeed News report that U.S. data had been accessed from China. TikTok’s official stance is that U.S. data is kept in the U.S., but leaked audio tells a different story of TikTok employees having access to non-public data.

“It is clear that TikTok poses an unacceptable national security risk due to its extensive data harvesting being combined with Beijing’s apparently unchecked access to that sensitive data.” Said Carr.

TikTok’s Response

To avoid being removed from the two major platforms in the American market, TikTok has promised to move all U.S. user data to Oracle servers and delete all U.S. data from their company servers.

Frankly, the calls for a ban on Chinese-based TikTok are awfully ironic since U.S. based tech companies seem to have nearly unlimited freedom when it comes to harvesting U.S. user data. With understanding of the seriousness of national security, banning an app like TikTok is a strict precedent to set that threatens to open up to a ban on any app developed outside U.S. borders. I think everyone would be well served to avoid this type of scenario. 

Why We Care

Short-form video streaming has become a huge player in the world of digital content consumption, and with the emergence of Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts it’s only going to grow from here. TikTok being the leader of this burgeoning trend carries a good amount of potential for brands to create a persona their customers can engage with.  

Any U.S. ban on TikTok would severely limit the branding potential of the platform, and in turn eliminate a very real opportunity for certain brand types. The fallout from this ban request is something that should be monitored by marketers and brand strategists alike. It’s certainly something we are keeping our eyes on.