Federal Trade Commission chair Lina Khan faces new pressure from top Senate intelligence leaders to investigate TikTok after new reports that the company is sharing US data with China-based employees.
In a letter to Khan on Tuesday, Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee, called on the FTC to launch an investigation into TikTok’s data security practices. The call comes after a June BuzzFeed News The report detailed how the China-based ByteDance engineers had access to TikTok’s US data until January 2022.
“In light of repeated misrepresentations by TikTok regarding its data security, data processing and corporate governance practices, we urge you to act quickly on this matter,” the senators wrote.
The senators’ latest call for an investigation comes amid a new wave of regulatory skepticism against TikTok. After the BuzzFeed report was released last month, Brendan Carr, a Republican at the Federal Communications Commission, asked Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores. Later, a bipartisan group of senators wrote to TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew demanding answers about the app’s data security practices.
On Friday, Chew responded to US lawmakers, confirming that China-based employees have access to US user data. Chew also explained that TikTok partnered with Oracle to “implement new advanced data security controls that we hope to finalize in the near future.”
Since 2020, government officials have accused TikTok of sharing US user data with the Chinese government, effectively allowing Chinese officials to track and monitor Americans. TikTok has tried to allay lawmakers’ concerns, but Chew’s latest letter has sparked even more criticism.
In a statement dated TuesdayWarner said, “TikTok has for years assured lawmakers that user data — and business activities — were effectively shielded from the People’s Republic of China.” He continued, “It is a real concern when large communication apps are subject to authoritarian government requests.”
In a statement last week, Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) called on TikTok to testify before Congress in light of recent reports.
“TikTok’s response confirms that our fears of the CCP’s influence within the company are well-founded,” Blackburn said. “They should have been clear from the start, but instead they tried to cover up their work in secret. Americans need to know that when they are on TikTok, Communist China has their information. TikTok must come back and testify before Congress.”