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Tiktok under fire as Republicans voice concern over user data being shared with China


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On Tuesday, Republican representatives Cathy McMorris and James Comer wrote to TikTok’s Chief Executive Shou Zi Chewand and said information the company provided in a staff briefing appears to be inaccurate. Both politicians have asked Tiktok to provide drafts of any agreement being negotiated by US President Joe Biden’s Government to allow Tiktok to remain an active social media platform in the United States.

The two lawmakers said in their letter: “Some of the information TikTok provided during the staff briefing appears to be untrue or misleading, including that TikTok does not track US user locations.”

Last week, FBI Director Chris Wray raised familiar concerns have said Tiktok flagged national security concerns and it was a risk the Chinese government could use the social media platform to influence users.

He said: “The possibility that the Chinese government could use [TikTok] to control data collection on millions of users or control the recommendation algorithm, which could be used for influence operations.”

The FBI chief added that ByteDance could use the app to “control software on millions of devices” which would give them the chance to “technically compromise” those devices.

Mr Wray also added that there was cause for consideration as Chinese companies are required to “do whatever the Chinese government wants them to in terms of sharing information or serving as a tool of the Chinese government”.

He added: “That’s plenty of reason by itself to be extremely concerned.”

A spokesperson for Tiktok said: “As Director Wray specified in his remarks, the FBI’s input is being considered as part of our ongoing negotiations with the US Government.

“While we can’t comment on the specifics of those confidential discussions, we are confident that we are on a path to fully satisfy all reasonable US national security concerns.”

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In 2021, President Joe Biden withdrew a series of executive orders made by former president Donald Trump which would have banned US citizens from downloading Tiktok.

President Biden ordered the US Department of Commerce to investigate the security concerns posed by the app as well as similar websites in “the jurisdiction of a foreign adversary” such as China.

The US leader said they would use an “evidence-based approach” to see if they posed a risk to national security.

Tiktok users on the app once claimed to have pranked former president Donald Trump by sabotaging one of his rallies by registering to attend and then not showing up.

According to the fire department in Tulsa where the rally was held, only 6,000 people showed up at a nearly 20,000-seated stadium.

US politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez cheered about the incident when it took place in 2020, and gloated to the former president on Twitter: “Actually you just got ROCKED by teens on TikTok who flooded the Trump campaign with fake ticket reservations and tricked you.”


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