Home Republicans say TikTok made deceptive claims in briefings on knowledge dealing with
Home Republicans say TikTok could have misled congressional employees in non-public briefings in regards to the firm’s dealing with of US consumer knowledge, in a brand new letter to the short-form video app this week.
The letter dated Tuesday and addressed to TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew displays the most recent escalation by US lawmakers as they scrutinize TikTok’s potential influence on nationwide safety. And it foreshadows how Home Republicans, having gained a majority within the 2022 midterm elections, are prone to strategy TikTok within the coming months.
In bipartisan briefings to debate the corporate’s privateness practices, TikTok officers claimed that the app solely collects private data when customers are actively utilizing the app, and that workers primarily based in China don’t have entry to US TikTok customers’ particular geolocation knowledge, in accordance with the letter by Reps. James Comer and Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the respective rating members of the Home Oversight and Power and Commerce committees.
However public reporting by Shopper Studies and Forbes seem to contradict these statements, the letter continued.
“Each claims look like deceptive at finest, and at worst, false,” Comer and McMorris Rodgers wrote.
TikTok didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.
Tuesday’s letter calls on TikTok to protect a broad swath of paperwork, communications and different data, in a preview of how Home lawmakers might examine the corporate within the coming months.
It additionally requested TikTok to provide “all drafts and iterations” of any potential nationwide safety settlement the corporate could also be growing with the US authorities. And it reiterated a half-dozen different requests for data the GOP lawmakers had despatched to the corporate in the course of the summer season.
The lawmakers requested that TikTok reply by Dec. 6.
“People deserve solutions about how TikTok knowingly permits China to entry their knowledge, and E&C Republicans will proceed to demand these solutions,” mentioned Sean Kelly, a spokesperson for McMorris Rodgers. “One fast subsequent step is to cross the American Information Privateness and Safety Act this Congress, which might require corporations like TikTok to alert customers if their private data is being saved or accessed in international locations like China—and provides folks the choice to cease that data from being shared.”
Copies of the letter have been additionally despatched to the committees’ Democratic chairs, however these lawmakers, Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Frank Pallone, didn’t signal the letter. Spokespeople for Maloney and Pallone didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.
US officers have expressed bipartisan alarm over TikTok and its father or mother firm, ByteDance, which critics say might be compelled by Chinese language authorities at hand over knowledge pertaining to US residents or to behave as a channel for malign affect operations.
Over the weekend, Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner advised Fox Information Sunday he believes “TikTok is a gigantic risk” as a result of potential knowledge safety dangers in addition to the likelihood that China might wield its affect over ByteDance to manage what US customers see on TikTok.
“That may be a distribution mannequin that will make RT or Sputnik or a few of the Russian propaganda fashions pale as compared,” Warner mentioned.
Echoing these considerations final week, FBI Director Christopher Wray implied that China might even search to make use of TikTok as a covert software for hacking, telling lawmakers the FBI fears TikTok might be misused by China to “technically compromise” and “management software program on tens of millions of gadgets.”
TikTok has acknowledged that US consumer knowledge is accessible to China-based workers however has declined to chop off these knowledge flows, saying that it’s assured its talks with the US authorities will result in an settlement that can “fulfill all nationwide safety considerations.”
Earlier this month, TikTok up to date its privateness coverage for European customers, making clear that their private data will be accessed by workers across the globe, together with from inside China.
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