Years after President Donald Trump warned the American public about the Chinese social media application TikTok, Democrat politicians on the other side of the aisle have also started demonstrating the same concern.
While ByteDance (TikTok’s parent company) claims to be transparent about exactly what information they collect, TikTok has been involved in numerous scandals contradicting this claim over the years, including one in June 2022 when it was discovered that the app collected information from users’ iOS clipboards.
This gave ByteDance access to any data that a user may have copied or pasted on their phone. When Apple caught the company spying on millions of iPhone users, ByteDance claimed that the activity was accidental, caused by old code. However, a few weeks later, TikTok claimed the behavior was “triggered by a feature designed to identify repetitive, spammy behavior” and is, in fact, purposeful, according to a statement made to Forbes.
Trump signed an executive order in August 2020 that would effectively ban TikTok’s usage in the United States, reasoning that the application was spying on citizens, and was therefore a national security threat.
“This data collection threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information—potentially allowing China to track the locations of Federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage,” the order states.
This action hit a considerable amount of pushback, and never went into full action. A year later, President Joe Biden rescinded the order, admitting to critics that the application could “access and capture vast swathes of information from users,” but proceeding anyway, as reported by The Epoch Times.
“I think Donald Trump was right. I mean, TikTok is an enormous threat,” said Democratic Senator Mark Warner in a segment with Fox News. “So, if you’re a parent, and you’ve got a kid on TikTok, I would be very, very concerned. All of that data that your child is inputting and receiving is being stored somewhere in Beijing.”
Warner is the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee and is joined by Republicans, like Senator Tom Cotton, who agree that TikTok is a national security risk. FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr has gone on record denouncing TikTok. He has been urged by Senators Warner and Marco Rubio to take immediate action against the application, according to The Epoch Times.
In response to this Congressional pressure, a TikTok spokesperson said, “We are confident that we are on a path to reaching an agreement with the U.S. Government that will satisfy all reasonable national security concerns,” in a statement to ABC News.
This flurry of tech company security and regulatory discussion in Congress has come ahead of Elon Musk’s recent acquisition of Twitter, whose purchase has not passed unnoticed.
President Biden has recently expressed interest in investigating Musk’s purchase, backtracking on an earlier statement made by the White House, according to a previous report by American Pigeon.