US Army Should Assess Security Risks of Using TikTok for Recruitment: Sen. Schumer

By Reuters
November 12, 2019 Updated: November 12, 2019

WASHINGTON—The top Democrat in the U.S. Senate, Chuck Schumer, on Nov. 12 released a letter he wrote to Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy raising concerns about the U.S. military’s use of the China-owned TikTok social media platform for recruiting American teenagers.

“While I recognize that the Army must adapt its recruiting techniques in order to attract young Americans to serve, I urge you to assess the potential national security risks posed by China-owned technology companies before choosing to utilize certain platforms,” Schumer wrote in the letter, dated Nov. 7.

TikTok, a video app popular with teens and 20-somethings, has grown more popular among U.S. teenagers at a time of mounting tensions between Washington and Beijing over trade and technology transfers. The company has stressed its independence from China but has failed to calm congressional nerves about security of the personal data of U.S. citizens who use the platform.

About 60 percent of TikTok’s 26.5 million monthly active users in the United States are between the ages of 16 and 24, the company said this year.

“National security experts have raised concerns about TikTok’s collection and handling of user data, including user content and communications, IP addresses, location-related data, metadata, and other sensitive personal information,” Schumer wrote.

He said he was especially concerned about Chinese laws requiring domestic companies “to support and cooperate with intelligence work controlled by the Chinese Communist Party,” he wrote.

In October, Schumer and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) also sent a letter to acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire asking for a national security probe, saying they were concerned about the app’s collection of user data, and whether China censors the content U.S. users can see. They also suggested TikTok could be targeted by foreign influence campaigns.

The inter-agency Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) has launched a national security review of TikTok owner Beijing ByteDance Technology’s $1 billion acquisition of U.S. social media app

Schumer asked the Army to answer questions regarding any intelligence consultations it has done regarding TikTok by Dec. 6.

By Diane Bartz. The Epoch Times contributed to this report.