GOP senators press Biden administration on TikTok security concerns

(AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File)

A group of Senate Republicans led by Sens. Roger Wicker (Miss.) and Tom Cotton (Ark.) is pressing the Biden administration over what it sees as a failure to take seriously the national security concerns posed by TikTok, a popular video-hosting service.  

In a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, the lawmakers said the administration has failed to enforce an August 2020 order by former President Trump directing ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns TikTok, to divest its American assets and destroy any data it acquired through TikTok.  

“The Biden administration has seemingly done nothing to enforce the Aug. 14 order nearly two years since its promulgation. The results of the security reviews, likewise, have not been publicly released after one year,” the senators wrote.  

The lawmakers pointed out that media reports indicate Oracle has secured a deal to store all of TikTok’s U.S. data but argued that won’t address their national security concerns.  

“The proposed TikTok deal would do little to address the core security concerns that motivated the Aug. 14 order. That order was not simply concerned about data, but about a Chinese company’s ownership of a social media platform in America,” they wrote.  

They wanted to know what assurances the administration has that TikTok will adopt privacy policies with adequate protections and how it will enforce data protection through a third-party U.S. company.  

They asked what steps the government has taken to protect U.S. data already acquired by TikTok and whether it will press for the destruction of data not stored within the United States.  

Sens. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) also signed the letter.  

The battle stems from an executive order Trump issued on Aug. 6, 2020, that effectively banned the use of TikTok within the United States. The order banned use of the app within the United States if ByteDance didn’t sell it, triggering a legal battle.  

Biden revoked that order in June of last year.  

But the Democratic president did not revoke Trump’s follow-up order issued on Aug. 14, 2020, directing ByteDance to divest its American assets and destroy U.S. data.  

“The Aug. 14 order was based on ‘credible evidence’ that the acquisition threatened to ‘impair the national security of the United States,’” the senators wrote, citing a review of evidence by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.  

The senators are demanding to know whether TikTok will be locally managed in the United States and whether its algorithm will be controlled by its current Chinese owner.  

They are asking Yellen to respond by July 22.  

Tags Biden China Janet Yellen Janet Yellen Joe Biden Roger Wicker Roger Wicker TikTok Tom Cotton Tom Cotton Trump
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