Recent reports that American user data on TikTok are routinely checked by TikTok employees in China are not particularly new. China’s international tech companies have been sharing data for many years, through which the Chinese government has gained the eyes and ears of the world.

In 2020, President Trump (at that time) urged Beijing-based parent company ByteDance to sell it and ban it from use because of concerns that TikTok is a national security threat. However, President Biden revoked the order. Chuck Flint is a lawyer and former White House Chief of Staff responsible for technical policy and Sino-US relations. Flint is the person who considered the change in US policy towards TikTok and how the use of TikTok puts Americans, especially children, at risk.

I’ve been writing about the problems with TikTok for a long time, but now it’s so popular that it has overtaken Google to become the most accessed domain in the world. Why do people continue to use TikTok?

First, people see it as harmless fun. Users create nimble dance videos and share them with others, some of whom are rewarded. It is difficult to convince people that the medium in which they can dance is a threat. There are over 100 million active TikTok users in the United States, with 63% of downloads coming from children and adults between the ages of 10 and 29.

Second, President Biden is embracing this platform. He invited TikTok influencers to the White House to give a briefing on the Ukrainian War, and both the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Parliamentary Election Commission are joining the platform to reach out to young voters. ..

What kind of legal measures have been taken against TikTok in recent years?

In 2020, TikTok was subject to federal class proceedings in California and Illinois on suspicion of fraudulently collecting adult and child user data and sending it to Beijing. TikTok eventually paid a $ 92 million settlement to avoid the trial. Two years later, a new audio recording of TikTok’s internal meeting reveals that employees in China are accessing US user data. According to BuzzFeed reports, TikTok officials said “everything can be seen in China.”

Fortunately, BuzzFeed’s coverage has boosted momentum for new scrutiny. Senators Warner and Rubio are requesting an investigation from the FTC (Federal Trade Commission). Senators have sent a letter to TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew asking for information on how the platform shares data and its relationship with Beijing’s parent company ByteDance.

FCC (Federal Communications Commission) Brendan Carr has also urged Apple and Google to remove TikTok from the app store. TikTok is back in its original popular place, but there’s more to do.

What do you need to know about services and apps in China?

China passed the National Security Act in 2017, requiring Chinese businesses and individuals to collect information if ordered by Beijing. The Chinese government is also an investor in ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok. As a result, the Chinese government can request access to TikTok employees in China, regardless of where American user data is stored. TikTok swallows browsing history, geographic data, financial data, phone numbers, contacts, clipboard data, biometric data, draft videos and more.

As a senior staff member of the US Senate, I studied the data privacy practices of Beijing technology companies and the national security risks that China poses. An external auditor hired by TikTok has also pointed out that Chinese technology has a backdoor that allows unauthorized access to data. This data can be aggregated using artificial intelligence (AI) technology to create sophisticated profiles that expose Americans to information manipulation and intimidation. Imagine a fraudulent tax return being filed on your behalf. The Chinese Communist Party does not hesitate in the event of an emergency.

Can China provide us with online services even though it is totally blocking US apps? What is the mechanism?

Beijing’s Ministry of Information is blocking US social media apps in China. Why don’t we do that either? It’s just amazing that we allow online services from China to US citizens. However, the reason can be explained in one word. It’s money.

For example, TikTok has paid the New York Yankees $ 10 million and has a three-year advertising contract that includes the Yankee Stadium sign. Chinese government funding has become a magical drug that invades US companies, and China will continue to exploit the US until it changes.

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