FBI Director Warns of TikTok Security Concerns, Says Chinese Government ‘Doesn’t Share Our Values’

FBI Director TikTok security concerns
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FBI Director TikTok security concerns
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Photo Credit: Federal Bureau of Investigation

FBI Director Chris Wray warns of TikTok security concerns, saying that the app is in the hands of a Chinese government that “doesn’t share our values.”

FBI Director Chris Wray announced Friday that the FBI was concerned that the Chinese government’s control over TikTok raised national security concerns. Wray said that China has the ability to control the app’s recommendation algorithm, enabling them to “manipulate content, and if they want to, use it for influence operations.” He also voiced concern that China could use the app to collect user data, which could be used in traditional espionage operations.

“All of these things are in the hands of a government that doesn’t share our values and that has a mission that’s very much at odds with what’s in the best interests of the United States. That should concern us,” Wray said recently at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

Wray’s concerns are similar to the ones he raised during congressional appearances last month when the issue came up and continues to come up during ongoing dialog over the app in Washington. US officials across multiple government agencies are in talks with the company over a possible agreement to resolve American security concerns.

“As Director Wray has previously said, the FBI’s input is being considered as part of our ongoing negotiations with the US Government,” said TikTok spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter in an emailed statement.

“While we can’t comment on the specifics of those confidential discussions, we are confident that we are on a path to fully satisfy all reasonable US national security concerns and have already made significant strides toward implementing those solutions.”

In September, TikTok Chief Operating Officer Vanessa Pappas responded to questions at a Senate hearing by saying that the company protects all American users’ data and that Chinese government officials have no access.

“We will never share data, period,” said Pappas.

While Beijing-based company ByteDance owns TikTok, TikTok has noted that ByteDance is a private company and that “TikTok Inc., which offers the TikTok service in the United States, is a US company bound by US laws.”