Over the past year, a chorus of Republicans—from senators to governors—have pushed to get TikTok out of America, over fears of data harvesting and vague national security concerns.
Now, a Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee has added to the movement, calling on both Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their respective app stores.
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) wrote a letter to Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai and Apple CEO Tim Cook saying he had “grave concern” about TikTok being available to download in the U.S.
He echoed numerous concerns previously raised that, because TikTok is owned by a Chinese corporation, it may be doing the bidding of its Communist party.
“Chinese law, Bennet wrote, obligates ByteDance, its Bejing-based parent company to ‘support, assist, and cooperate with state intelligence work.’”
Bennet said that TikTok could be “weaponized” against the United States.
Bennet’s letter makes the assumption that China will meddle in U.S. affairs via the wildly popular video app and its algorithm. “Given this context, we should accept the very real possibility that the [Chinese Communist Party] could compel TikTok … to use its influence to advance Chinese government interests.”
He points to the possibility that TikTok could restrict the reach of content criticizing China’s policy toward Taiwan or its detention of the Uyghur population, which has been under fire from human rights organizations
Bennet also cited TikTok’s collection of data on Americans, which has been shown to be accessed in China, despite TikTok’s denials.
However, like most concerns about TikTok, the issue of data collection and algorithmic manipulation is a large-scale American problem, not one inherent in any given app.
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is slated to testify before Congress in March.
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*First Published: Feb 2, 2023, 9:29 am CST
David Covucci is the senior politics and technology editor at the Daily Dot, covering the nexus between Washington and Silicon Valley. His work has appeared in Vice, the Huffington Post, Jezebel, Gothamist, and other publications. He is particularly interested in hearing any tips you have. Reach out at [email protected]