WASHINGTON, March 8 (Reuters) – China’s government could use TikTok to control data on millions of American users, FBI Director Christopher Wray told a U.S. Senate hearing on Wednesday, saying the Chinese-owned video app “screams” of security concerns.
Wray told a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on worldwide threats to U.S. security that the Chinese government could also use TikTok to control software on millions of devices and drive narratives to divide Americans over Taiwan or other issues.
“Yes, and I would make the point on that last one, in particular, that we’re not sure that we would see many of the outward signs of it happening if it was happening,” Wray said of concerns China could feed misinformation to users.
“This is a tool that is ultimately within the control of the Chinese government – and it, to me, it screams out with national security concerns,” Wray said.
The White House backed legislation introduced on Tuesday by a dozen senators to give President Joe Biden’s administration new powers to ban TikTok and other foreign-based technologies if they pose national security threats. The endorsement boosted efforts by a number of lawmakers to ban the popular app, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance and used by more than 100 million Americans.
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Other top U.S. intelligence officials including Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, CIA Director William Burns and National Security Agency Director Paul Nakasone agreed at the hearing that TikTok posed a threat to U.S. national security.
Nakasone on Tuesday expressed concern during Senate testimony about TikTok’s data collection and potential to facilitate broad influence operations.
Reporting by Michael Martina and Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Will Dunham
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