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Amazon told employees to delete TikTok from phones, citing security risks, then changed its mind

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Key Points
  • Amazon told employees to delete TikTok from their devices, citing unspecified "security concerns," according to an email obtained by CNBC.
  • Employees are required to remove the app from mobile devices that access the company's corporate email by Friday.
  • The decision comes as TikTok, owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, faces growing scrutiny from Washington.

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TikTok logo is seen displayed on a phone screen in this illustration photo taken in Krakow, Poland on November 13, 2019. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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Amazon sent an email to employees on Friday, asking them to remove TikTok from their mobile devices by July 10 because of unspecified "security risks," according to an email obtained by CNBC. However, the company later told media that the email was sent in error and it's not actually changing its policy toward TikTok.

"If you have TikTok on your device, you must remove it by 10-Jul to retain mobile access to Amazon email," stated the email, which CNBC saw. "At this time, using TikTok from your Amazon laptop browser is allowed."

However, on Friday afternoon, an Amazon spokesperson told CNBC, "This morning's email to some of our employees was sent in error. There is no change to our policies right now with regard to TikTok." 

The move comes as TikTok, owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, is under growing scrutiny from Washington. Due to its ownership, U.S. politicians have concerns about TikTok's links to China and the potential for user data to be accessed by the Chinese government. 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday the U.S. is "looking at" banning TikTok, warning that if users download the app, they risk having their "private information in the hands of the Communist Party."

TikTok has previously said that it stores American users' data in servers located in the U.S. and Singapore, while its data centers are located outside of China. 

A TikTok spokesperson told CNBC in a statement that the company values user security and privacy.

"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," the spokesperson said. "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."

Update: This story has been updated to reflect that the earlier email was sent in error, according to an Amazon spokesperson.

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