Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri earlier on Wednesday warned Americans of the danger Chinese apps possessed. TikTok is the most likely target when it comes to banning foreign applications. Many critics have condemned TikTok for stealing data and manipulation.
He stated that China can access American data through Chinese applications such as TikTok and thus banning this app should be the topmost priority of the country.
Senator said in a letter to Janet Yellen, Treasury Secretary that an ex-employee for ByteDance, which is the parent company of TikTok had direct knowledge of the company’s operating practices.
“So the gist of it is is that that the whistleblower says that data engineers in China can absolutely access Americans’ personal data, that there’s any kind of firewall is not true at all,” Mr Hawley told The Independent. “They set up the idea that there are even meaningful control procedures around data is not true.”
He also cited the testimony of Vanessa Pappas, the chief operating officer of TikTok from before where she said the company has “strict controls in terms of who and how our data is accessed” and that the company believes “we have the strictest controls out there.” However, the senator refused to believe this as the truth, according to the ex-employee.
“The whistleblower describes TikTok’s access controls on US data as ‘superficial’ at best, where they exist at all,” he said. He further said that employees of TikTok and ByteDance, including those of the Chinese Communist Party can flip between the United States and Chinese data via a tool called Dorado.
“Other tools used by TikTok and ByteDance employees allegedly allow for similarly easy access to US data. According to the whistleblower, some tools, such as Aeolus, only require approval from a manager and a dataset owner before an employee can access US data,” he said.
Mr Hawley said the former employee said “I have seen first-hand China-based engineers flipping over to non-China datasets and creating scheduled tasks to backup, aggregate, and analyze data.”
To assure safety, Mr Hawley asked Ms Yellen as she is the chairwoman of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States whether the Chinese apps revealed any internal products like the ones he described that permit them to access data of the US if it can toggle between Chinese and US data, if US data can be assessed by the engineers of China.
He further questioned whether the committee obtained any information relating to the approval process to access data of the US, and whether TikTok or ByteDance are even a subject to a law in the People’s Republic of China that says, “Any organization or citizen shall support, assist and cooperate with the state intelligence work in accordance with the law”?