Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) want U.S. intelligence officials to take a closer look at TikTok: In a letter to the acting director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, the two senators asked to review security risks posed by TikTok’s ties to the Chinese government.
“With over 110 million downloads in the U.S. alone, TikTok is a potential counterintelligence threat we cannot ignore,” Schumer and Cotton wrote.
A TikTok spokesperson told Variety Thursday morning that the company was “committed to being a trusted and responsible corporate citizen in the US,” and that it would cooperate with Congress and regulators, but declined to comment further.
TikTok is owned and operated by Beijing-based ByteDance. The company has said in the past that it wasn’t storing data from Western users in China, but Schumer and Cotton argued in their letter that the company could still be compelled to work with Chinese intelligence.
“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 duo wrote in their letter. “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.”
The two senators also referenced recent reports that TikTok had been censoring videos in support of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong even for users not residing in China, and that TikTok may be used to interfere in the upcoming Presidential elections.
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