The FBI chief alerts people to potential “national security risks” that the Chinese-owned TikTok app may provide.
During the pandemic, the popular social media content-sharing platform picked up steam. TikTok packs a billion users globally, with content posted and shared by persons of all ages. However, American officials investigated the program and determined that the platform may become a potential information weapon for the Chinese. TikTok has already made headway in the United States, with millions of users across the country. As a result, the FBI warned people about the program’s dangers.
FBI Director Christopher Wray highlighted concerns about TikTok’s regulations before the Homeland Security Committee. The warning came days after Republican senators sponsored a bill restricting the application in the United States.
“They include the possibility that the Chinese government could use it to control data collection on millions of users. Or control the recommendation algorithm. It could be used for influence operations if they so chose, or to control software on millions of devices, which allows it to compromise personal devices potentially technically,” Wray said.
Chinese-owned ByteDance administers TikTok. According to official investigations, ByteDance may be misusing the information of American users. National security regulations in China permit apps like TikTok to gather user data. TikTok, on the other hand, denied the accusations and claimed that they could not retrieve US-based data because the company still stored it in the U.S.
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TikTok management defends company
A TikTok spokesperson debunked the FBI’s claims. Furthermore, the official assured the US government that TikTok would observe any privacy and information laws in the U.S. However, even before Wray raised the red flag, TikTok received criticisms from several high-ranking officials. This includes former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden.
“As Director Wray specified in his remarks, the FBI’s input is being considered as part of our ongoing negotiations with the U.S. Government. While we can’t comment on the specifics of those confidential discussions, we are confident that we are on a path to satisfy all reasonable U.S. national security concerns fully,” the spokesperson said.
“In light of this new report, we ask that your agency immediately initiate a Section 5 investigation based on apparent deception by TikTok and coordinate this work with any national security or counter-intelligence investigation that the U.S. Department of Justice may initiate,” said lawmakers following a BuzzFeed leak sending TikTok under public scrutiny.
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Calling to ban the company in the U.S.
TikTok is experiencing challenges, with various authorities attempting to block the app from the United States. A few months ago, politicians forced the federal authorities to restrict TikTok from the United States. TikTok, on the other hand, went to the courts to have the claims dropped. The problem faded away for a while. Finally, with Wray dragging TikTok back into the frontline, many people felt motivated to request a ban.
“This is not something you would normally hear me say. But Donald Trump was right on TikTok years ago if your country uses Huawei if your kids are on TikTok. So the ability for China to have undue influence is a much greater challenge. And a much more immediate threat than any kind of actual, armed conflict,” said Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner.