LOS ANGELES - Some 80 million Americans use TikTok.
Now, as tensions rise between the US and China, members of Congress are sounding the alarm over the popular video-sharing app, warning users that their personal data may be vulnerable to snooping by the Chinese government.
“There are privacy concerns with a lot of apps,” Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) told FOX 11’s Elex Michaelson in an exclusive interview on The Issue Is. “But when you’re dealing with a Chinese-owned app, a Chinese company, they are under legal obligation to give Chinese intelligence, or the Chinese government, whatever they ask for, and that is a concern.”
The warning comes as this week, as part of a package of amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act, The House voted overwhelmingly to prohibit the app, which has some 80 million monthly users in the US, from being downloaded on government-issued devices.
Earlier this year, Wells Fargo similarly banned employees from using the app on their phones, and the White House is currently considering a national ban on the app, alongside other apps linked to the Chinese government.
TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Beijing-based tech company valued at roughly $20-billion.
“Whatever app you are using, the makers of that app are going to be getting some personal information about you,” Schiff warned. “You have some control about the personal information you share with them, but you don’t have perfect control over it.”
“When it comes to a Chinese company, or a Chinese app, you have even less control over your personal data.”
Schiff cautioned that, regardless of the motives of TikTok, or other Chinese companies, if the Chinese government requests user data, by Chinese law, the company is required to comply, leaving many US users potentially vulnerable.
While Schiff didn’t go so far as to call for a total ban of TikTok, he did warn that users, of which his own daughter is one, be careful of the type of information they make public.
“They need to assume [their personal information] will not be kept private,” the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee said. “And with particular apps like TikTok, there’s even more reason for concern.”
In a wide-ranging interview on The Issue Is, Schiff also discussed future coronavirus relief efforts being debated in Congress, his proposed legislation to limit Presidential pardon power, and the legacy of Congressman John Lewis.
The Issue Is is California's only statewide political show. Watch FOX 11 Los Angeles Fridays at 10:30PM and Sundays at 9:30AM. For more showtimes and information, go to TheIssueIsShow.com.