But a TikTok leader, in a rare interview on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” on Sunday, claimed that there are no security issues associated with the hugely successful app.
On the surface, TikTok is absolutely cheerful, allowing users to share content including dance videos and cooking tutorials. But critics believe something more scary may be embedded in the model, claiming that the power comes from data collection and algorithms.
TikTok is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, which means that the company is mainly under the control of the Chinese government, said CNN̵[ads1]7;s chief media correspondent Brian Stelter.
FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr told Stelter that lawmakers had asked TikTok directly if any data would be accessed by Beijing. Instead of being upfront, he said, the company has repeatedly said that all US user data is stored in the US.
The FCC does not have jurisdiction over social media, Stelter pointed out. But Carr said the FCC has developed an understanding of how the Chinese government can take data and infiltrate communications.
The allegations that TikTok collects browser history are “simply untrue”, said Michael Beckerman, head of public policy, Americas, at TikTok. He also said that while the app scans your face for filters, it does not use it to identify individuals.
Stelter asked if any members of the Chinese Communist Party had seen non-public TikTok user data. “The answer is that we have never shared information with the Chinese government, nor would we,” Beckerman said, adding that they have US-based security teams.
“Are TikTok’s engineers, the people who develop this tool, make this tool, are they linked to China, and is it a threat to the United States?” asked Stelter again.
“No, absolutely not. TikTok is not a security threat,” Beckerman said, adding that TikTok is willing to be transparent and cooperate with stakeholders.
The Buzzfeed report also said there was concern that China could use TikTok to “influence American commercial, cultural or political behavior.”
“Yeah, I just do not see it,” Beckerman said, adding that the videos he sees are all from American creators.
“This is something we have worked very hard to eliminate to our platform. Anything that is dangerous or harmful violates our community guidelines.”