FBI Director Christopher Wray said the Chinese government could use data gathered from TikTok, owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, to influence Americans and control software on their mobile devices.
His comments came Wednesday during a Senate intelligence committee hearing on worldwide threats to the U.S. Among the many topics covered during the hearing were possible threats from tech companies that answer to the Chinese Communist Party, or CCP — including TikTok. The app reached 1 billion monthly users in its third year of existence, including 100 million users in the U.S.
Under questioning from the committee’s vice chair — Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. — Wray said that if narratives were being driven using TikTok, “we’re not sure that we would see many of the outward signs of it happening, if it was happening.”
A new bipartisan bill that has garnered White House support could lead to a complete U.S. ban on TikTok.
“Something that’s very sacred in our country — the difference between the private sector and the public sector — that’s a line that is nonexistent in the way the CCP operates,” Wray told Rubio. A 2017 law enacted in China states that “any organization or citizen shall support, assist and cooperate with the state intelligence work in accordance with the law, and keep the secrets of the national intelligence work known to the public.”
This post was produced and edited by Nick Schifrin, Tommy Walters, Teresa Cebrian Aranda, Julia Griffin, Tim McPhillips, Yasmeen Alamiri and Dan Cooney.
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