Apple and Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In a statement, TikTok called BuzzFeed’s report “misleading.”
“Like many global companies, TikTok has engineering teams around the world,” TikTok said. “We employ access controls such as encryption and security monitoring to protect user data, and the access approval process is overseen by our US-based security team. TikTok has always maintained that our engineers in locations outside from the US, including China, may be granted access to US user data as needed under those strict controls.”
In a statement, Buzzfeed News said it “strongly endorses our report that China-based TikTok employees accessed US user data far more frequently than previously known, and we’re pleased that TikTok has even confirmed this in its own statement.”
For years, US officials have expressed concern that Chinese government access to US users’ data or communications could put national security at risk. But it is not known whether Carr’s statement will work.
The FCC plays no role in regulating internet-based services such as app stores, and past efforts by the US government to ban TikTok from US app stores. have failed amid legal challenges. Decisions about how and whether the FCC should act would require buy-in from Chair Jessica Rosenworcel, who heads the independent federal agency.
Carr wrote in his letter that he was unsure about the ad. “TikTok has long claimed that its US user data has been stored on US servers, and yet those representations do not provide protection against data access from Beijing,” he said. “In fact, TikTok’s statement that ‘100% of US user traffic is routed to Oracle’ says nothing about where that data can be accessed from.”
– CNN’s Oliver Darcy contributed to this report