On Tuesday, July 28, Republican Sens. Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio signed a letter addressed to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security to express their concern about the threat of espionage by the Chinese social network TikTok in the upcoming presidential elections.
“TikTok has become a popular forum for Americans—particularly younger Americans—to engage in political conversation,” the senators wrote.
“I’m greatly concerned that the CCP could use its control over TikTok to distort or manipulate these conversations to sow discord among Americans and to achieve its preferred political outcomes,” the letter added, according to The Hill.
The application developed by the ByteDance company is not exempt from intelligence laws that force companies to share data with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which raises increasing concerns about the privacy of Americans’ information.
The senators who drafted the letter cited as an example the well-known case of a young man whose account was temporarily blocked from the social network after he posted a critical video denouncing the treatment of Uighur Muslims in detention camps in Xinjiang by the CCP.
The young man’s video was removed last year. He questioned whether the application was not being used by the CCP “to not let the truth be set free.”
Lawmakers said, “Chinese government [CCP] officials are increasingly using Western social networking companies, including those banned in China, to flood global social networks with propaganda and misinformation.
The Chinese application has been increasingly frowned upon by federal lawmakers because of the risks it poses to national security.
As the Washington Examiner has reported, even mistrust of the social network is not only among Republican Party lawmakers. The campaign team of today’s Democratic presidential hopeful, Joe Biden, was instructed last week to remove the application from his cellphone.
In recent weeks, the Trump administration has stepped up its efforts to ban the app because of concerns about data shared with the Chinese Communist Party.
Earlier this month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the option of banning some Chinese applications, including TikTok, was being considered.
“We’ve worked on this very issue for a long time, whether it was the problems of having Huawei technology in your infrastructure we’ve gone all over the world and we’re making progress getting it out. We declared ZTE a danger to American national security,” Pompeo said.
“We’ve done all of these things. With respect to Chinese apps on American cellphones, I can assure you the U.S. will get this one right too,” Pompeo said.