TikTok: The tough stance of a US Senator

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United States Senator Michael Bennet wrote a letter to the CEOs of Apple and Google, asking them to ban TikTok from its stores. The news, reported by The New York Times, therefore fuels the tug of war between the USA and the very popular Chinese platform, considered by Bennett to be a “danger to national security”.

Bennet, a Democratic senator from Colorado and a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, reportedly sent the letter directly to Tim Cook e Sundar Pichai, CEO of the two tech giants. According to the Senator “no company subject to the dictates of the Communist Party of China should have the power to collect such a large amount of data on the American people”.

Michael Bennett: ‘TikTok poses a danger to US security’

An excerpt from the letter signed by Bennet reads:

“TikTok’s vast influence, and its aggressive data-gathering practice, pose a threat to US national security, primarily due to its parent company’s obligations under Chinese law. Article 7 of China’s National Intelligence Law states that ‘any organization or citizen is called upon to support, assist and cooperate with the work of state intelligence’. Article 14 gives Chinese security agencies the authority to request the cooperation of companies like ByteDance [società madre di TikTok, ndr]while articles 16 and 17 allow intelligence agents to access relevant materials and files and to use its communication tools and facilities”

In the letter, Bennet cites a report published last June by BuzzFeed News. It alleges that TikTok engineers in China had accessed extensive US user data between September 2021 and January 2022. Bennet’s letter closes as follows: “Given these serious and growing concerns, I request that you immediately remove TikTok from your app stores”.

We recall that TikTok has long been in the crosshairs of US regulatory authorities. Already under the Trump administration, the United States tried, with little result, to ban the app from US stores. Concerns then grew in the following years, especially in recent months. Both Republicans and Democrats have raised concerns about the handling of the collected data.

on your part ByteDance unveiled a plan in August which details how it intends to prevent the Chinese government from having access to data on US users, and how it will offer the US government oversight of the platform. The Biden administration has yet to officially respond on this proposal.

Meanwhile, at least 27 state governments have passed full or partial bans on the app. A bipartisan bill was introduced in Congress last December. This would ban the app nationwide. The Foreign Affairs Committee will meet this month to discuss it. Senator Bennet’s full letter to Apple and Google is available on Scribd at this link.