Lawmaker warns TikTok could pose national security risk

Lawmaker warns TikTok could pose national security risk
© Greg Nash

Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) is cautioning people against using social media platform TikTok, warning it could be used as a tool for the Chinese government to obtain access to users’ personal information.  

The Indiana Republican said the popular app, which allows its users to create short videos, could pose a national security risk and increase the chances of intellectual property theft.  

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“Well, TikTok is widely used across the United States, roughly, 100 million times it's been downloaded in the United States alone and a billion times worldwide,” he said in a video recently posted on Fox News’s website. 

“But this like so many other instances is a tool of the Chinese Communist Party, the Chinese government to infiltrate the United States for purposes that are in the best interest of China.”

Banks said while the app is intended to appear harmless it has been used by the Chinese government to track data on the Uyghur Muslim people.

“It seems harmless to its users. I mean I've seen it, I've played with it myself, but it is an app we know that the Chinese use in their own company to spy on the Uyghur Muslim people for example, they use it as a form of espionage, they use the GPS components that are gained from access to the app to spy on the Uyghur Muslims,” he continued, referring to an ethnic and religious minority population in China's northwest Xinjiang province. “Imagine what they can do to use it as a tool against those in the United States of America."

Banks called for an investigation to be launched into TikTok and advocated for current users to delete from their devices. 

“We should demand that the United States government look at how the Chinese are using the app and prevent it from being used for purposes of espionage against United States citizens. We know what they're capable of, we know what they do on college campuses to steal secrets of some of our research on some of our college campuses,” he said.  

“We know what they use these types of tools for in their own country. It's hard to say what they already have access to, but we should be very, very concerned and wary that the proliferation of apps like TikTok, the billions of dollars that the Chinese have used to advertise technologies like this in the United States to hook American used to download apps like these on their phones, that should be very concerning to us from the outset.”