Apple and Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In a statement, TikTok called the BuzzFeed report “misleading.”
“Like many global companies, TikTok has engineering teams around the world,” TikTok said. “We use access controls such as encryption and security monitoring to secure user data, and our US-based security team oversees the access approval process. TikTok has consistently confirmed that our engineers in locations outside the US, including China, can be granted access to the access data. US user on an as-required basis under those strict controls.”
In a statement, Buzzfeed News said it “stands unequivocally behind our reports that TikTok employees based in China accessed US user data much more frequently than previously known, and we are pleased that TikTok confirmed this in its own statement.”
For years, US officials have expressed concerns that the Chinese government’s access to US users’ data or communications could jeopardize national security. But it is uncertain whether Carr’s appeal will succeed.
The Federal Communications Commission does not play a role in regulating internet-based services such as app stores, and previous efforts by the US government to ban TikTok from US app stores have faltered amid judicial challenges. Decisions about how and whether the FCC should act will require approval from President Jessica Rosenworsel, who leads the independent federal agency.
Carr wrote in his letter that he was not sure of the ad. “TikTok has always claimed that its US user data is stored on servers in the US, yet these representations provide no protection against data accessed from Beijing,” he said. In fact, TikTok’s statement that ‘100% of US user traffic is directed to Oracle’ says nothing about where this data may be accessed from.
CNN’s Oliver Darcy contributed to this report
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