by Brett Rowland
A U.S. Senator has called on the nation’s top tech companies to break up with the popular short-form video service TikTok.
U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, D-Colorado, asked Apple CEO Tim Cook and Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai to remove TikTok from the company app stores immediately over national security concerns.
“Like most social media platforms, TikTok collects vast and sophisticated data from its users, including faceprints and voiceprints,” Bennet wrote in a letter to the tech leaders. “Unlike most social media platforms, TikTok poses a unique concern because Chinese law obligates ByteDance, its Beijing-based parent company, to ‘support, assist, and cooperate with state intelligence work.'”
Bennet used the letter to emphasize concerns about TikTok’s reach in the United States. It is the third-most popular social media app in the U.S. with more than 100 million American users, who spend an average of more than 80 minutes per day on the app, according to a news release.
“Beijing’s requirement raises the obvious risk that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) could weaponize TikTok against the United States, specifically, by forcing ByteDance to surrender Americans’ sensitive data or manipulate the content Americans receive to advance China’s interests,” Bennet wrote in the letter. “No company subject to CCP dictates should have the power to accumulate such extensive data on the American people or curate content to nearly a third of our population.”
Lawmakers in several U.S. states have moved to ban official use of TikTok over security concerns. Kentucky, for example, no longer allows TikTok on most Kentucky state government mobile devices or computers.
A bill introduced last month by a pair of Republican lawmakers seeks a broader ban on the use of the social media platform TikTok in the U.S. The legislation directs the president to “block and prohibit all transactions in all property” of ByteDance, which owns TikTok, in the U.S., citing China’s ability to pull user data from the social media platform.
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Brett Rowland is an award-winning journalist who has worked as an editor and reporter in newsrooms in Illinois and Wisconsin. He is an investigative reporter for The Center Square.
Photo “Michael Bennet” by Senator Michael Bennet. Background Photo “TikTok” by Anthony Quintano. CC BY 2.0.