The popular video app TikTok has come under fire after two senators have requested an assessment of the company for any national security risks it may pose to the United States.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) sent a letter to acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire Wednesday, NBC News reports. The app is owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance, which acquired it in 2017.
"Security experts have voiced concerns that China’s vague patchwork of intelligence, national security, and cybersecurity laws compel Chinese companies to support and cooperate with intelligence work controlled by the Chinese Communist Party," the letter states.
"Given these concerns, we ask that the Intelligence Community conduct an assessment of the national security risks posed by TikTok and other China-based content platforms operating in the U.S. and brief Congress on these findings,” the lawmakers requested.
The two congressmen are concerned about how much data TikTok collects, and if the app would limit what American users can see because of what Chinese censorship dictates. "With over 110 million downloads in the U.S. alone, TikTok is a potential counterintelligence threat we cannot ignore," they wrote.
This letter marks the second time Congress has made an effort to learn more about TikTok. Sen. Marco Rubio, (R-Fla.) sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to ask the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States to investigate TikTok’s purchase of the social media app Musical.ly.
The senator called on the committee to explore the “Chinese government's nefarious efforts to censor information inside free societies around the world cannot be accepted and pose serious long-term challenges to the U.S. and our allies."
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is one of the high-profile figures who recently came out and criticized TikTok for their censorship. “While our services like WhatsApp are used by protesters and activists everywhere due to strong encryption and privacy protections, on TikTok, the Chinese app growing quickly around the world, mentions of these protests are censored, even in the U.S.,” Zuckerberg said, according to CNBC. “Is that the internet we want?”