The FBI Has ‘National Security Concerns’ About TikTok

TikTok is no stranger to controversy, particularly from a cybersecurity perspective. The app has come under fire many times in the past as a data mining tool for the Chinese government, including an allegation the company had plans to spy on a US citizen. Now, the FBI is expressing its deep concerns with the social media app. As reported by
November 22, 2022
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TikTok is no stranger to controversy, particularly from a cybersecurity perspective. The app has come under fire many times in the past as a data mining tool for the Chinese government, including an allegation the company had plans to spy on a US citizen. Now, the FBI is expressing its deep concerns with the social media app.

As reported by NPR, FBI director Christopher Wray told a House Homeland Security Committee the bureau is concerned the Chinese government could use TikTok “to influence American users or control their devices. As NPR quotes:

“They include the possibility that the Chinese government could use it to control data collection on millions of users or control the recommendation algorithm, which could be used for influence operations if they so chose, or to control software on millions of devices, which gives it an opportunity to potentially technically compromise personal devices.”

The issue at hand is the Chinese government has the power to demand data from apps within its jurisdiction. Since TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, operates in China, it falls under those rules, placing the data of US citizens in potential jeopardy. Reports claim ByteDance employees have accessed US users’ data, like phone, numbers, birthdays, and, most recently, personal location.

As the FBI analyzes the situation, some lawmakers want to ban the app outright. Other experts think a better approach is to improve the US’ data privacy regulations to reign in apps and services like TikTok.

Until then, the best course of action is to exercise caution when using TikTok. If you choose to use it, don’t give the app unnecessary permissions, like your location or tracking.

Photo by Alexander Shatov on Unsplash

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