TikTok is facing more scrutiny from the federal government. This time around, Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) have written a letter to the Chairperson of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to ask the agency to open an investigation into the social media platform’s questionable data protection practices.
Warner and Rubio are the leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and it is in that capacity that they sent their letter to FTC Chairperson Lina Khan. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has already spoken out against TikTok, formally asking Apple and Google do de-list the popular app from their respective mobile stores.
The pressure is a response to a recent article from Buzzfeed News that suggested that TikTok is giving ByteDance executives unregulated access to personal data harvested from US citizens. If true, it would mean that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) essentially has access to anything pulled from TikTok, since ByteDance (its parent company) is based in China and is subject to CCP oversight.
TikTok’s CEO has denied the latest allegations, and ByteDance executives have previously done the same, stating unequivocally that the CCP does not have access to any TikTok data. However, that statement predates the most recent Buzzfeed report, and is now being cited as grounds for a more thorough investigation, insofar as it suggests that ByteDance and TikTok have deliberately tried to hide their data sharing from federal regulators. Rubio and Warner want the FTC to look into the two companies for making deceptive claims, and to work with the Justice Department to evaluate any potential threat to national security.