The leftist Big Tech giants that waged a political vendetta against Parler when each banned the app from their platforms are now silent on whether or not the communist Chinese government-tied TikTok app should be banned.
TikTok was recently banned by President Joe Biden’s administration from government devices. Federal agencies were given 30 days to nix the app from their equipment. This follows after the app has come under a mountain of bipartisan pressure for the threats it poses to national security and consumer data privacy.TikTok’s Beijing-tied parent company ByteDance is also reportedly being investigated by the Department of Justice for unilaterally using TikTok to gain and exploit journalists’ location data in addition to consumers’ private information.
Given the wave of growing concerns about TikTok, MRC Free Speech America staff reached out to Apple and Google, the two companies that banned the free speech app Parler from their app stores following the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot. Apple later restored Parler back onto its app store in April 2021 and Google followed suit nearly two years after the initial ban in September 2022. Both app stores, however, continue to host TikTok, even in the face of glaring national security and data security red flags.
MRC Free Speech America asked Apple and Google whether TikTok should be banned from the U.S. for being a national security risk. Neither of the Big Tech companies provided comment as of the publication of this story. In Apple’s case, it not only didn’t respond to an email request for comment from MRC but a representative from Apple claimed on the phone that the company gives no comments to any journalist that doesn’t pay Apple for special “press credentials.”
Apple CEO Tim Cook defended the decision to ban Parler for not installing a censorship apparatus during an April 2021 podcast. Cook called the move at the time “a straightforward decision, because they were not adhering to the guidelines of the App Store,” meaning Parler refused to censor speech that contradicted the leftist narrative. Also, is Apple itself guilty in retrospect of “not adhering” to App Store guidelines by continuing to host TikTok? According to the App Store guidelines under “Data Security,” apps should “implement appropriate security measures to ensure proper handling of user information collected pursuant to the Apple Developer Program License Agreement and these Guidelines (see Guideline 5.1 for more information) and prevent its unauthorized use, disclosure, or access by third parties.” For TikTok, this definitely appears to not be the case.
Google also whined about Parler’s lack of censorship in a 2021 statement to The New York Times, browbeating that “for us to distribute an app through Google Play, we do require that apps implement robust moderation for egregious content.”
Apparently holding TikTok accountable for being a tool for the Chinese Communist Party to exploit Americans’ data clearly wasn’t “straightforward” an issue enough for Apple or Google to respond to an inquiry about a TikTok ban.
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is set to testify before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce in Congress March 23. Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr pointed out on Twitter that Chew’s testimony continued a “concerning pattern of misrepresentations and raises additional red flags.” Chew claimed in his written testimony to Congress that TikTok collects “a limited amount of information when people set up an account, such as date of birth and username. Depending on how the individual signs up, we may also collect a phone number or email address.”
TikTok’s CEO testifies in Congress tomorrow amidst mounting evidence of the app’s unacceptable threat to national security.
Unsurprisingly, TikTok’s written testimony continues its concerning pattern of misrepresentations and raises additional red flags.https://t.co/4FQw7wbNER pic.twitter.com/KUJ4V1qkAU
— Brendan Carr (@BrendanCarrFCC) March 22, 2023
But TikTok also collects extremely detailed data from American users, including faceprints, location data, device system and model information, file and app names and even a user’s activity across multiple devices. In fact, Chinese companies are required to share all their data, including non-public data, with the communist government in Beijing.
Carr told MRC Free Speech America in an exclusive interview that the actions that the White House and 30 states have taken against TikTok on government devices are not enough to deal with the dangers it poses. “We have to go much further than that, which is to address TikTok not just on government devices, which we’ve done on the federal level now, and … at the state level, but we need to address this nationwide, for everybody not just government devices,” Carr told MRC Free Speech America.
Apparently, Apple and Google are content with caricaturing themselves as the epitome of censorship hypocrisy.
Parler is a member of the Free Speech Alliance.
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