Expressing concern over TikTok’s censorship of user content to advance the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) foreign policy aims, a set of 25 US Congressmen and Congresswomen have urged President Donald Trump to “take decisive action to protect the American people’s privacy and safety”.
In a letter to the US President, dated July 15, they also pointed out that India took the “extraordinary step” of banning several “Chinese affiliated mobile apps including TikTok due to national security concerns”. However, the CCP’s systemic campaign to collect and illicitly transmit user data for the Chinese government’s purposes is not unique to Indian consumers, the letter said.
“It is clear that the United States should not trust TikTok or any other Chinese-affiliated social media websites or apps to protect Americans’ data, privacy, or security. As such, we urge you to take strong action to stop the CCP’s sophisticated espionage campaign against our country and protect our national security,” the letter read.
They also said that they support Trump administration’s effort to restrict TikTok and other social media sites linked to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from accessing the US markets.
“These popular apps’ data collection practices, coupled with China’s onerous cybersecurity laws requiring all companies operating in China, including TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, to share user data with CCP authorities, present a very real threat to U.S. national security. As such, we urge your administration to take decisive action to protect the American people’s privacy and safety,” they said in the letter.
“Furthermore, TikTok’s censorship of user content to advance the CCP’s foreign policy aims is deeply concerning. Leaked documents detail instructions to ban videos on the app that mention Tiananmen Square, Tibetan independence, or banned religious groups,” the letter said.
“Moreover, an Australian Strategic Policy Institute report recently found that ByteDance works closely with the Chinese government to enable human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims by disseminating the CCP’s state propaganda. ByteDance is also required under Chinese law to provide seats on the company’s board of directors to CCP officials, further cementing the authoritarian government’s role in setting these policies,” it added.
India had recently banned 59 Chinese mobile applications including the widely-used social media platforms such as TikTok, WeChat, and Helo within view of the threat to the nation’s sovereignty and security.
The majority of the apps banned in the June 29 order were red-flagged by intelligence agencies over concerns that they were collecting user data and possibly also sending them “outside”.