The Chinese government could use the Chinese-owned video app TikTok to control data on millions of U.S. users, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray said Wednesday.
Wray made the comment at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on worldwide threats to U.S. security.
The White House backed legislation introduced Tuesday by a dozen senators to give the Biden administration new powers to ban TikTok and other foreign-based technologies if they pose national security threats.
Although not explicitly targeting TikTok, the bipartisan RESTRICT Act led by Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., and John Thune, R-S.D., would have substantial ramifications for the platform’s owner ByteDance, which is based in Beijing.
The bill permits the Department of Commerce to identify and mitigate risks posed by technology companies associated with enemies of the United States — notably China, North Korea, Iran, Russia, Cuba, and Venezuela.
In addition, it urges the DOC to prioritize evaluating foreign technology that affects critical infrastructure. New coordination between the DOC and the Director of National Intelligence to “educate the public” is also laid out.
“This legislation would empower the United States government to prevent certain foreign governments from exploiting technology services operating in the United States in a way that poses risks to Americans’ sensitive data and our national security,” said Jake Sullivan, President Joe Biden’s national security adviser.
“Critically, it would strengthen our ability to address discrete risks posed by individual transactions, and systemic risks posed by certain classes of transactions involving countries of concern in sensitive technology sectors,” he added.
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