National Security & Defense

House Dems Join GOP Reps Calling for Probe of Chinese App TikTok

The TikTok logo is displayed on a smartphone while on the U.S. flag, November 8, 2019. (Dado Ruvic/Reuters)

A group of House Democrats have announced their backing for a Federal Trade Commission probe into Chinese app TikTok, joining Republicans who have warned of possible security and privacy issues with the app.

The Democrats, who are members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, wrote in a letter Thursday that they supported an FTC probe two weeks after numerous privacy and consumer groups filed a complaint with the FTC regarding the app. Those groups argued that TikTok, which allows users to share short videos of themselves singing and/or dancing and appeals primarily to teenagers and children, violates the privacy rights of users. The FTC fined TikTok $5.7 million in 2019 for violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

“Given the reasonable concerns that the Chinese government may have access to the data TikTok collects on Americans, it is all the more troubling that the company appears to intentionally be in violation of U.S. data privacy laws,” the Democrats wrote. Signatories of the letter include Representatives Jan Schakowsky (D., Ill.) and Ann Kuster (D., N.H.).

Congressional Republicans have warned that the app could allow the Chinese government to access Americans’ data. Senators Josh Hawley of Missouri and Rick Scott of Florida introduced legislation in March to ban TikTok on federal government-issued devices.

“TikTok is a major security risk to the United States, and it has no place on government devices,” Hawley said at the time. TikTok has “admitted it collects user data while their app is running in the background — including the messages people send, pictures they share, their keystrokes and location data, you name it.”

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.


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