Amazon.com Inc. told employees to delete the social media app TikTok from mobile devices they use to access company email, citing “security risks,” according to an email reviewed by Bloomberg.
The online retailer sent the email Thursday morning, adding that employees could still access TikTok from their work laptops.
“Due to security risks, the TikTok app is no longer permitted on mobile devices that access Amazon email,” the company said. “If you have TikTok on your device, you must remove it by 10-Jul to retain mobile access to Amazon email.”
TikTok is owned by Chinese company ByteDance Ltd. President Donald Trump on Tuesday said his administration is considering banning the app in the U.S. as one possible way to retaliate against China over its handling of the coronavirus. The U.S. is also concerned Bytedance may be censoring politically sensitive content, and has raised questions about how it stores personal data.
Trump’s comments came after Secretary of State Michael Pompeo told Americans not to download the app unless they want to see their private information fall into “the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.” Bytedance is already facing a U.S. national security review for its acquisition of Musical.ly, a startup that it later merged with TikTok. TikTok has repeatedly denied allegations that it poses a threat to U.S. national security.
Earlier this week, TikTok also drew renewed scrutiny from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department over its data practices, according to children’s privacy advocates who say they were interviewed by the agencies. Several privacy groups alleged in May that the app was collecting information about children under 13 without parental permission, in violation of both U.S. privacy law and an earlier FTC settlement.
The New York Times reported the news earlier. Amazon couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
“User security is of the utmost importance to TikTok – we are fully committed to respecting the privacy of our users,” a TikTok spokesperson said in an email. “While Amazon did not communicate to us before sending their email, and we still do not understand their concerns, we welcome a dialogue so we can address any issues they may have and enable their team to continue participating in our community. We’re proud that tens of millions of Americans turn to TikTok for entertainment, inspiration, and connection, including many of the Amazon employees and contractors who have been on the frontlines of this pandemic.”
—With assistance from Shelly Banjo.
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