Senators ask FTC to probe TikTok over China's access to US user data

"Maybe now that Tik-Tok got caught turning over the personal data of American users more will finally join us to get this stopped," Rubio stated

Updated: July 6, 2022 - 5:55pm

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Senate Intelligence Committee leaders wrote a letter urging Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan to investigate TikTok in response to a report showing that China is accessing data from US users.

Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) called on Khan to "immediately" begin a Section 5 investigation in coordination with a possible Department of Justice investigation into TikTok's reported deception of its more than 1 billion users.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States began probing national security concerns involving TikTok in 2019. The following year, then-President Donald Trump threatened to ban the social media app completely over concerns the Chinese Communist Party was not only using Americans' personal information, but also spreading propaganda.

A Buzzfeed report last month showed that TikTok gave employees based in the People's Republic of China "unfettered access to user information, including birthdates [sic], phone numbers, and device identification information," the senators wrote in their letter Tuesday.

While TikTok has mentioned alleviating security concerns by moving to a U.S.-based storage system, the senators said "these latest revelations raise concerns about the reliability of TikTok representations: since TikTok will ultimately control all access to the cloud-hosted systems, the risk of access to that data by PRC-based engineers (or CCP security services) remains significant in light of the corporate governance irregularities."

"Maybe now that Tik-Tok got caught turning over the personal data of American users more will finally join us to get this stopped," Rubio wrote when he announced the letter.