US lawmakers are questioning national security threat of TikTok


Chinese social media upstart TikTok is being scrutinized by US lawmakers who question whether the app is a national security threat.

In a letter addressed to the US National Security Director, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Tom Cotton, a Republican, are calling on intelligence officials to assess the potential risks posed by TikTok.     

'With over 110 million downloads in the U.S. alone, TikTok is a potential counterintelligence threat we cannot ignore,' wrote the senators in their letter. 

'Given these concerns, we ask that the Intelligence Community conduct an assessment of the national security risks posed by TikTok and other China-based content platforms operating in the U.S.' 

Among the concerns are both the growing influence of TikTok, owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance, and its adherence to an agenda set by the Chinese government.

Skeptics say the app could be actively exporting information on users in the US to the Chinese government. 

'Security experts have voiced concerns that China's vague patchwork of intelligence, national security, and cybersecurity laws compel Chinese companies to support and cooperate with intelligence work controlled by the Chinese Communist Party,' the lawmakers wrote.

'Without an independent judiciary to review requests made by the Chinese government for data or other actions, there is no legal mechanism for Chinese companies to appeal if they disagree with a request.' 

According to American Professor David Carrol, who took on the big data company, Cambridge Analytica after they illegally used the data of 80 million Facebook users to help elect US President Donald Trump, TikTok could be next incarnation of the ground-breaking scandal.

In an interview with Quartz in May, Carrol pointed to TikTok's questionable practices in regard to harvesting users' data, saying it could be a potential flashpoint for lawmakers. 

'If lawmakers on Capitol Hill knew that their childrens TikTok data may have been flowing right into China, I bet theyd worry about it as much as I do,' he said.

In the US, similarly influential Chinese companies have already started to hit guardrails imposed by skeptical lawmakers, including smartphone giant Huawei.

The company has been accused of spying on users in the US and abroad at the behest of the Chinese government.

The wireless infrastructure and phone manufacturer was blacklisted this year amid an increasingly heated trade war between the US and China. That conflict has continually alluded resolution.

Source: https://www.dailymail.co.uk

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