The viral short-form video app TikTok has been staring down heightened scrutiny after a number of senators raised the alarm about potential cybersecurity considerations final month, and now it’s reportedly the topic of a nationwide safety assessment.
In accordance with a Reuters report Friday, the Committee on International Funding in the USA is reviewing the app’s acquisition by its mother or father firm, Beijing-based ByteDance, for potential threats to nationwide safety. In 2017, ByteDance purchased what would ultimately turn into TikTok, the karaoke app Music.ly, in 2017 for as a lot as $1 billion, ultimately migrating over its hundreds of thousands of customers to assist gas TikTok’s quickly rising reputation in western markets. Worldwide, TikTok boasts roughly 800 million monthly active users and it surpassed 1 billion downloads earlier this yr.
The specifics of the federal investigation stay unclear, although it’s more likely to cowl why the corporate didn’t safe clearance from the CFIUS for this buy per Reuters. An nameless supply aware of the assessment advised the New York Occasions that officers possess proof of TikTok sending knowledge again to China, an allegation the corporate has repeatedly refuted. In a blog post last month, TikTok said that it depends on knowledge facilities in America and Singapore to retailer U.S. person knowledge. Although ByteDance could also be primarily based in Beijing, Tiktok doesn’t function in another country and as such isn’t beholden to Chinese language legislation. Its customers, content material, and knowledge additionally aren’t related to ByteDance’s different merchandise in China, a TikTok spokesperson advised Gizmodo on the time.
TikTok didn’t instantly reply to Gizmodo’s request for remark. A ByteDance spokesperson gave the New York Times the next assertion:
“Whereas we can not touch upon ongoing regulatory processes, TikTok has made clear that now we have no greater precedence than incomes the belief of customers and regulators within the U.S. A part of that effort consists of working with Congress, and we’re dedicated to doing so.”Advertisement
Final week, senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) sent a request to Performing Director of Nationwide Intelligence Joseph Maguire to look into TikTok and consider it for potential cybersecurity threats. “With over 110 million downloads within the U.S. alone, TikTok is a possible counterintelligence menace we can not ignore,” they wrote. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) additionally not too long ago raised comparable considerations, and he praised information of the committee’s transfer on Twitter Friday.
It appears like TikTok’s shaping as much as be the subsequent battlefield between the USA and China, the most recent proxy (together with these on an ever-growing blacklist of corporations) of their battle to return out on high within the international tech market.