A democratic senator in the US urges Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their respective app stores ahead of CEO meeting with US Congress
Pressure on ByteDance’s popular TikTok app continues, with a notable intervention from a US senator serving on the Senate intelligence committee.
Reuters reported that Democrat Senator Michael Bennet has called for TikTok to be removed from the app stores run by Apple and Alphabet’s Google, because the short video social media app poses a risk to national security.
Earlier this week it was reported that TikTok chief executive Shou Zi Chew is to testify before the US Congress in March, as lawmakers prepare a bill that could ban the social media platform from the country on national security grounds.
Chew is to be the sole witness at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on 23 March, and is to face questions on TikTok’s privacy and data security practices, its impact on young users and its “relationship to the Chinese Communist Party”.
It comes as the House Foreign Affairs Committee plans to hold a vote in February on a bill that would block the use of TikTok in the US on national security grounds.
US officials have said China’s government could force TikTok or parent ByteDance to hand over data on US users that could be used for intelligence or disinformation purposes.
As a result TikTok has already been banned on official federal government devices, with more than half of US states passing similar measures.
The company, which has more than 100 million US users, has sought to assure lawmakers that US personal data can’t be accessed by the Chinese government or government-influenced organisations.
App store removal
Into this comes the app store removal call in a letter dated Thursday from Senator Michael Bennet, a Democrat on the intelligence committee.
“No company subject to CCP (Chinese Communist Party) dictates should have the power to accumulate such extensive data on the American people or curate content to nearly a third of our population,” Bennet wrote in the letter to Alphabet Chief Executive Sundar Pichai and Apple CEO Tim Cook, Reuters reported.
“Given these risks, I urge you to remove TikTok from your respective app stores immediately,” he wrote.
His intervention is notable as until now, it has been mostly Republicans and Republican US states that have sought to ban TikTok on national security concerns.
That said, Democratic Senator Dick Durbin has previously urged Americans to stop using the app.