US senators call TikTok 'massive surveillance' tool for China
Lawmakers back Donald Trump's efforts to ban China's TikTok app and warn Americans that the app may be able to spy on user data.
The Chinese video app TikTok has come under severe attack from within the Democratic and Republican parties, while the US administration is considering a proposal regarding the continuation of the app's operation in the United States.
Two prominent senators from the Democratic and Republican parties announced that they will introduce legislation this month to ban the use of TikTok in the United States, amid fears that it is a Chinese “surveillance tool”, according to Bloomberg.
“It’s not just the content you upload to TikTok but all the data on your phone, other apps, all your personal information, even facial imagery, even where your eyes are looking on your phone,” Arkansas Republican Tom Cotton said on Fox News Sunday.
Cotton called the platform “one of the most massive surveillance programs ever, especially on America’s young people," advising Americans to delete the app and get a new phone.
Senate Intelligence Committee chair Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat, told Fox News the app is an "enormous threat," adding that “All of that data that your child is inputting and receiving, is being stored somewhere in Beijing."
The Biden administration is seeking a security agreement to keep TikTok operating in the United States and to avoid a ban that Donald Trump proposed.
The proposal being considered will condition all US user traffic to be routed through servers maintained by Oracle Corp., with the latter auditing the app’s algorithms.
FBI Director Christopher Wray reiterated his concerns about national security, telling a House panel last week that potential Chinese government access to users’ data or software is reason to be “extremely concerned.”
TikTok Chief Executive Officer Shou Zi Chew talked about Project Texas last week. Under it, sensitive data from American users will be isolated and only the staff in the US will be able to access it.
However, speaking at the 2022 Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore, he called the effort “extremely difficult and expensive to build,” but aimed at the concerns of American officials.