TikTok, the wildly popular short-form video platform, is a potential counterintelligence threat we cannot ignore, according to Sens. Chuck Schumer and Tom Cotton.
Owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, TikTok has more than 110M downloads in the US.
While Congress grilled Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during his Oct. 23 appearance on Capitol Hill, the New York Democrat and Arkansas Republican wonder if the Chinese company may be used by China’s government, as a tool of espionage and for spreading propaganda among millions of Americans.
Though the platform does not operate in China, it must adhere to Chinese intelligence, national security and cybersecurity laws that require Chinese companies to support the country’s Communist Party.
Schumer and Cotton want the US intelligence community to conduct an assessment of the national security risks posed by TikTok and other Chinese content platforms and a Congressional briefing on the finding.
In a letter to Joseph Maguire, acting director of national intelligence, the Senators note that TikTok’s algorithms “learn” each user’s interests and preferences through repeat interaction. They collect user content data, location-reference information and a wide range of personal information.
The politicos fear that TikTok could censor materially deemed political sensitive to the Chinese government while manipulating content to shed a favorable light on Beijing.
They cite “hot button” issues for China’s government, such as the Hong Kong protests, Tiananmen Square uprising, Tibetan and Taiwanese independence and the mistreatment of China’s Muslim Uighur people.
They also view TikTok as a “potential target of foreign influence campaigns like those carried out during the 2016 election on US-based social media platforms."
Be careful what you wish for department. The mob of conservative Republican Congressmen who tried to shut down the impeachment hearings on Oct. 23 brought back memories of the GOP riot in Florida that led to the end of the 2000 Florida recount that robbed Al Gore of the presidency.
The GOP got away with it back then—thanks to a favorable Supreme Court vote. They won’t be so lucky this time around.
The Republican mobsters charge that Democrats are waging a closed-door impeachment process and want the hearings to be conducted in the sunlight.
The secrecy charge is hogwash. Politico counts 45 Republicans---about 25 percent of the House GOP Conference—with access to the impeachment depositions. Their silence doesn’t bode well for President Trump, dodging the impeachment bullet because they surely would have leaked any good news for Trump to Fox News.
As for sunlight, the GOP will soon be blinded by the light as the impeachment proceedings move into the public hearings phase.
Instead of orchestrating crazy publicity stunts, the GOP would make better use of its time in drawing up a defense for the indefensible actions of the president.