FBI is ‘extremely concerned’ about China’s influence through TikTok


FBI Director Christopher Wray looks on as he testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing entitled “Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. August 4, 2022. 

Jim Bourg | Reuters

Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray told lawmakers Tuesday that he’s “extremely concerned” about TikTok’s operations within the U.S.

“We do have national security concerns at the least from the FBI’s end about TikTok,” Wray told members of the House Homeland Security Committee in a hearing about worldwide threats. “They include the chance that the Chinese government could use it to manage data collection on hundreds of thousands of users. Or control the advice algorithm, which may very well be used for influence operations in the event that they so selected. Or to manage software on hundreds of thousands of devices, which supplies it opportunity to potentially technically compromise personal devices.”

Wray’s remarks construct on those from other government officials and members of Congress who’ve expressed deep skepticism concerning the ability of the Chinese-owned video platform to guard U.S. user information from an adversarial government. TikTok has maintained it doesn’t store U.S. user data in China, where the law allows the federal government to force corporations handy over internal information.

Wray said that law alone was “loads of reason by itself to be extremely concerned.”

“As Director Wray laid out in his remarks, the FBI’s input is being regarded as a part of our ongoing negotiations with the U.S. Government,” a TikTok spokesperson said in a press release. “While we won’t comment on the specifics of those confidential discussions, we’re confident that we’re on a path to totally satisfy all reasonable U.S. national security concerns.”

But reporting from Forbes has forged doubt on the safety of U.S. user information at TikTok. The outlet reported, for instance, that TikTok’s parent company ByteDance planned to make use of the app to observe specific location details of certain Americans, citing materials it reviewed. TikTok pushed back on the report, denying that it had ever tracked certain U.S. residents with their specific locations and slamming Forbes for publishing the allegations.

Wray said that any details about TikTok’s actions would should be discussed in a classified briefing. But he assured lawmakers that “it’s definitely something that is on our radar and we share your concerns.”

The Biden administration has reportedly been nearing a cope with the corporate to permit it to maintain operating within the U.S. under more stringent security measures, in accordance with The Recent York Times. Wray said the FBI’s foreign investment unit is working through the Department of Justice to assist provide you with an acceptable solution as a part of the foreign investment review process. He said the FBI’s input “can be taken into consideration in any agreements made to deal with the difficulty.”

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