Calls to can TikTok grow amid national security concerns – Spectrum News NY1

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Concerns over TikTok’s threat to United States national security have grown — reviving calls to block the app in the United States.  
"The basic concern is that TikTok is owned by a company called ByteDance and is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party," Gallagher told Spectrum News on Thursday.  
His concerns don’t stop at spyware. He’s concerned China may be influencing the app’s algorithms in the U.S., claiming, without evidence, that TikTok is "infecting the brains of millions of Americans.”  
“It’s a national security issue,” Gallagher said. “It’s about protecting our country, protecting our kids, and … our relationship with China.”  
As of Sept. 2021, TikTok has amassed more than 1 billion users, and has become a part of how Americans communicate and consume entertainment and news. 
The company says its mission is to "inspire creativity and bring joy" despite the assertion from a top government official who believes it has "national security concerns."  
In a House Homeland Security Committee hearing entitled "Worldwide Threats to the Homeland," FBI director Christopher Wray told members that the FBI’s concerns include "the possibility that the Chinese Government could use it to control data collection on millions of users or control the recommendation algorithm which can be used for influence operations."  
Among the various concerns, Wray expressed such as the Chinese potentially controlling "software on millions of devices" which could give them the "opportunity to technically-comprised personal devices,” Wray told committee members.  
In 2020, then-President Donald Trump signed an executive order blocking transactions with TikTok, stopping new U.S. users from downloading it.  
"Specifically, the spread in the United States of mobile applications developed and owned by companies in the People’s Republic of China (China) continues to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States," the executive order said.
President Joe Biden signed an executive order revoking Trump’s ban on the U.S. doing business with TikTok’s parent company, and instead called for foreign oversight of applications owned by foreign entities. TikTok has been in talks with members of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to address concerns that the app is a threat to national security.  
"The FBI’s foreign investment unit is working through the Department of Justice and is a part of the CFIUS process,” Wray told lawmakers when asked if the FBI would communicate the concerns of national security the government has about TikTok. "Our input would be taken into account in agreements that might be made to address the issue.”  
While Trump called for the sale of TikTok to quell these concerns, the Biden administration has been using these CFIUS negotiations with ByteDance to find another solution.  
But Gallagher isn’t confident the administration is taking the issue seriously.  
"I know that it’s a popular app right now. But I still think we want the president to be setting that example," he said.  
With legislation already introduced, Gallagher hopes the White House will engage with him on the effort to ban the app.


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