Leading senators in the Senate Intelligence Committee have increased their pressure on FTC Chair Lina Khan to look into TikTok following recent revelations that the business shares US data with employees headquartered in China.
The chairmen of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), requested the FTC to launch an inquiry into TikTok’s data security procedures in a letter to Khan on Tuesday. The request follows a June BuzzFeed News article that described how ByteDance developers headquartered in China had access to TikTok’s US data as recently as January 2022.
The senators wrote, “We encourage you to act immediately on this matter in light of TikTok’s repeated misrepresentations concerning its data security, data processing, and corporate governance standards.
A new wave of regulatory doubt over TikTok has led to the senators’ most recent request for an investigation. Brendan Carr, a Republican on the Federal Communications Commission, requested that TikTok be removed from their app stores after the BuzzFeed piece was published last month. Later, a bipartisan group of senators sent a letter to Shou Zi Chew, CEO of TikTok, requesting information on the app’s data security procedures.
Chew confirmed that staff with access to US customer data were situated in China in a response to US senators on Friday. Chew said that TikTok was collaborating with Oracle to put “more enhanced data security safeguards that we intend to finish in the near future” into place.
Since 2020, authorities have claimed that TikTok has given the Chinese government access to US user data, essentially enabling Chinese authorities to follow and monitor Americans. TikTok has made an effort to allay legislators’ worries, but Chew’s most recent letter has drawn even more ire.
“For years, TikTok has told Congress that user data – and corporate activities – were properly firewalled from the People’s Republic of China,” Warner said in a statement on Tuesday. When important communications applications are exposed to authoritarian government requests, he continued, “It’s a genuine problem.”
Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) asked on TikTok to appear before Congress in a statement last week in light of recent findings.
TikTok’s statement, according to Blackburn, “confirms that our concerns regarding CCP influence within the company are well-founded.” They should have been upfront from the beginning but instead sought to conceal their efforts. Americans need to be aware that Communist China has access to their data if they use TikTok. TikTok must return and appear before Congress.