International

US Senators Want Probe Into TikTok’s ‘Counterintelligence Threat’

TikTok

Two U.S. senators, Sen. Charles Schumer and Sen. Tom Cotton, have asked Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire to look into super popular video-sharing app TikTok for potential security risks, considering it recently passed 1 billion downloads. 

The Financial Times is reporting that the worry is orbiting around the technology company in China that owns TikTok, called ByteDance.

Both senators sent a joint letter to Maguire on Wednesday (Oct. 23), which said “With over 110m downloads in the US alone, TikTok is a potential counter-intelligence threat we cannot ignore.”

Several Chinese companies have been sanctioned by the Trump administration, including Hikvision, Dahua and Huawei. One of the main concerns of the government is a law that makes it mandatory for Chinese companies to work with Chinese intelligence officers. That gives leaders on Capitol Hill the idea that China is potentially using their technology to spy on Americans.

The reason TikTok is so dangerous, the senators say, is because of its proliferation into American life and its massive popularity. TikTok is now so popular it rivals social behemoths like Facebook and Instagram.

There’s also been concern about the app’s censoring of sensitive material, like the protests in Hong Kong or content related to Tiananmen Square.

“We do not have details on the request and will not be offering any further comment on it at this time other than to reaffirm that TikTok is committed to being a trusted and responsible corporate citizen in the US, which includes working with Congress and all relevant regulatory agencies,” TikTok said on Thursday.

Another senator, Marco Rubio, also expressed concern about ByteDance and asked the Treasury for a probe into the company’s 2017 acquisition in Musical.ly.

TikTok has hired consultants in Washington to help guide it through these issues.

“These steps are just the latest efforts in our ongoing commitment to maintaining the app experience users expect while providing them the protections they deserve,” TikTok U.S. General Manager Vanessa Pappas wrote in a blog post.

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