TikTok Data Practices, FCC’s Mandate on Wireless Outages, AT&T First Responder Network

Lawmakers are calling on the FTC to investigate data claims by China-based social media app TikTok.

TikTok Data Practices, FCC’s Mandate on Wireless Outages, AT&T First Responder Network
Photo of Senator Mark Warner, D-Va.

July 7, 2022 – In a letter to Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Lina Khan, Senators Mark Warner, D-Va., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., asked the agency to investigate popular video sharing app TikTok over concerns that the company is misleading the public about its data practices.

“We ask that your agency immediately initiate a Section 5 investigation on the basis of apparent deception by TikTok, and coordinate this work with any national security or counter-intelligence investigation that may be initiated by the U.S. Department of Justice,” read the letter.

The letter alleges that TikTok misrepresented its corporate governance practices, leading Americans to believe that they are not affiliated with its Beijing-based parent company ByteDance, a company that is required by Chinese law to comply with the Communist government’s surveillance demands.

“Recent updates to TikTok’s privacy policy, which indicate that TikTok may be collecting biometric data such as faceprints and voiceprints, heighten the concern that data of U.S. users may be vulnerable to extrajudicial access by security services controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.”

Only last week Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr called for Apple and Google to remove the Beijing-based application from their app stores amid cybersecurity concerns.

In February, Facebook hired Targeted Victory, a Republican consulting firm, to run a campaign against the platform, portraying the app as a danger to America.

FCC releases order to protect public from wireless outages

The Federal Communications Commission released an order Wednesday and further notice of proposed rulemaking that would make compulsory the current voluntary industry framework under which wireless carriers support each other following natural disasters.

The new framework, called the Mandatory Disaster Response Initiative, also mandates roaming agreements so that any carrier with network outage may get voice roaming on a carrier that is still operational.

“MDRI leverages and builds upon the Framework’s foundation, including lessons learned over the years of its implementation, and delivers strong tools to promote public safety in times of disaster,” read the report. It will “ensure more seamless and effective roaming in disaster situations.”

The order takes decisive measures to “improve the reliability and resiliency of mobile wireless networks that are a significant lifeline for those in need during disasters and other emergencies.”

In the report, the FCC acknowledged that much more needs to be done to improve connectivity resilience and promised to “continue to examine the broader record on resiliency matters… and take further action as warranted.”

AT&T to partner with other providers for Navajo Nation network build

AT&T announced Wednesday that it is partnering with Commnet, NTUA, NTUA Wireless and the Navajo Nation Telecommunications Regulatory Commission to help with builds using additional Band 14 spectrum and AT&T commercial LTE spectrum bands for emergency services.

The builds will cover 27,000 square miles and will “help extend FirstNet’s reach in the community, as well as improve the LTE broadband signal for residents,” read the press release.

FirstNet is a high-speed broadband communications platform built for first responders and the extended public safety community and is built with AT&T in partnership with the First Responder Network Authority, an independent agency within the federal government.

The partnership will build “new, purpose-built FirstNet sites where first responders said they needed improved coverage,” said the press release. “These network enhancements will also help improve the overall coverage experience for AT&T wireless customers in Navajo Nation.”

“This collaboration is helping to more quickly address rural coverage needs and expand the reach of FirstNet for the public safety community,” said the report.

All towers are expected to be operational by December, the company said.

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