Lawmakers ask US intelligence chief to investigate if TikTok is a national security threat – TechCrunch

Two lawmakers have requested the federal government’s most senior U.S. intelligence official to assess if video-sharing app TikTok might pose “national security risks” to the United States.

In a letter by Sens. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Tom Cotton (R-AR), the lawmakers requested the performing director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire if the app maker might be compelled to flip Americans’ information over to the Chinese authorities.

TikTok has some 110 million downloads to date and has spiked in reputation for its capability to report quick, snappy movies which might be sharable throughout social media networks. But the lawmakers say as a result of TikTok is owned by a Beijing-based firm, it might be compelled by the Chinese authorities to flip over consumer information — equivalent to location information, cookies, metadata and extra — even if it’s saved on servers it owns within the United States.

Both Schumer and Cotton warn that TikTok’s mum or dad firm, ByteDance, is “still required to adhere” to Chinese regulation.

“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 letter, dated Wednesday, mentioned. “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.”

That similar authorized precept works each methods. U.S. corporations have been shut out, or had their entry restricted, in some nation states — together with China — over fears that they might be compelled to spy on behalf of the U.S. authorities.

In the aftermath of the Edward Snowden disclosures, which revealed the U.S. authorities’s huge surveillance operation, a number of main tech corporations had been all dropped from China’s permitted state purchases checklist amid concern of U.S. cooperation in surveillance.

The senators additionally mentioned they’re involved that the app was censoring content material “deemed politically sensitive” to Beijing. In September, The Guardian revealed that the app’s moderators actively censor content material relating to Tibetan independence, the Tiananmen Square bloodbath and the banned spiritual group Falun Gong.

They additionally mentioned the app might pose a “counterintelligence” threat because it might be used as a international affect software as seen within the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

When reached, a spokesperson for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence wouldn’t remark.

TikTok mentioned it was “carefully reviewing” the letter.

“We 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 U.S., which includes working with Congress and all relevant regulatory agencies,” mentioned TikTok spokesperson Josh Gartner.

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