“With more than 110 million downloads in the US alone, TikTok is a potential threat to counter-intelligence that we can not ignore,” the Senators wrote in their letter.
They point out that TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, must comply with China’s laws and be pressured to work with the Chinese Communist Party’s intelligence work. They are also concerned that the app could be impacted by foreign-influenced campaigns as they were conducted in 2016. They note that TikTok has reportedly censured what is considered politically sensitive to the Chinese Communist Party, including content related to the Hong Kong protests, Tiananmen Square, Tibetan and Taiwanese independence and treatment of the Uighurs.
A spokesperson for TikTok declined to comment on the senators’ letter, but said: “TikTok has set itself the goal of being a trusted and responsible US citizen, including working with Congress and all relevant regulators belongs.”
The senators are not alone in relation to TikTok and other Chinese companies. Earlier this month, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) asked ByteDance’s takeover of Musical.ly to be reviewed in the light of censure allegations. The US has recently added eight technology companies to its “entity list” and blacklisted them for human rights issues. When the Trump administration proposed to ease the restrictions on Huawei, Congress pushed back