TikTok Is a National Security Threat: FBI Director Wray

TikTok Is a National Security Threat: FBI Director Wray
FBI Director Christopher Wray in Washington on Nov. 15, 2022. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Andrew Thornebrooke

Social media giant TikTok presents a unique threat to U.S. national security because of its ties to communist China, according to FBI Director Christopher Wray.

Speaking during a hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee, Wray said TikTok, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, poses significant national security concerns to the United States.

“I would say that we do have national security concerns, at least from the FBI’s [perspective], about TikTok,” Wray said.

“They include the possibility that the Chinese government could use it to control data collection on millions of users or control the recommendation algorithm, which could be used for influence operations if they so chose, or to control software on millions of devices which gives it opportunity to potentially technically compromise personal devices.”

Wray delivered the comments in response to a line of questioning by Rep. Diana Harshbarger (R-Tenn.), who asked if the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which rules China as a single-party state, was actively using ByteDance or TikTok to surveil U.S. citizens.

The questions directly referenced reporting in October from Forbes, which uncovered a plot by China-based employees at TikTok to surveil the location and personal information of specific Americans for no known reason.

In addition to the already chilling effect of being surveilled, the report has shed light on TikTok’s problematic relationship with ByteDance, as CCP laws require any data stored within China or by China-owned companies to be handed over to the CCP if deemed an issue of national security. This means that any data TikTok stores in China or sends to ByteDance could be obtained and exploited by the CCP.

Wray declined to comment openly about whether the CCP was directly using either company to undermine U.S. national security or what such operations might look like. However, he said he could deliver classified information to the committee to help inform its judgments about the issue.

“As to what is actually happening, actually being done, that’s probably something that would be better addressed in a closed, classified setting,” Wray said. “It is certainly something that is on our radar.”

Representatives for TikTok didn’t respond by press time to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.

Andrew Thornebrooke is a national security correspondent for The Epoch Times covering China-related issues with a focus on defense, military affairs, and national security. He holds a master's in military history from Norwich University.
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