Indiana AG Todd Rokita Urges Residents to Delete ‘CCP-Controlled’ TikTok

Indiana AG Todd Rokita Urges Residents to Delete ‘CCP-Controlled’ TikTok
The logo for social media app TikTok is displayed on the screen of an iPhone on an American flag background in Arlington, Va., on Aug. 3, 2020. (Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images)
Caden Pearson

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita has called on state residents to protect their privacy from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) by deleting the “deceptive social networking app” TikTok from their phones.

Rokita, who has launched two lawsuits against the “CCP-controlled” app, urged Indiana residents on Friday not to wait for the White House “to take action” against TikTok, which security experts have long warned poses a risk to U.S. national security.

“Indiana residents should not wait for Congress and the Biden White House to take action against this deceptive social networking app,” Rokita said in a statement. “We’ve got to take the initiative ourselves.”

Chinese security laws compel companies inside the country to cooperate with intelligence agencies when asked. TikTok, owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, has said that it would not comply with any requests by the CCP for user data.

Rokita’s office noted that more than 130 million Americans, including two-thirds of American teens, claim they use the app, which collects their personal information and potentially sends it directly to the Chinese regime.

The app began in China as “Douyin” in September 2016 and grew to 100 million Chinese users in a year. In September 2017, the app was relaunched globally as TikTok, growing to approximately a billion active users globally by 2020.

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita speaks in Schererville, Ind., on Nov. 8, 2022. (Darron Cummings/AP Photo)
Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita speaks in Schererville, Ind., on Nov. 8, 2022. (Darron Cummings/AP Photo)

‘Foreign Threats’

TikTok’s potential to allow the CCP, considered the biggest threat to America by the Pentagon, to reach “right into millions of Americans’ personal devices” makes it a “larger threat” than other forms of “Big Tech overreach” from U.S. companies, according to the Indiana attorney general.

Casey Fleming, CEO of intelligence and security strategy firm BlackOps Partners, has previously said that the CCP is engaged in “unrestricted warfare” as it seeks to supplant the United States to become the world’s sole superpower.

“All technology coming out of China—either manufactured in China, created in China—is controlled by the CCP,” he said.

“TikTok is a weaponized espionage platform controlled by the CCP in the hands of most of your kids and young adults. It is what war looks like today—hybrid warfare. It should be banned by the U.S. government immediately,” he added.

Rokita declared that the CCP has said it wants “to be the dominant force in the world,” and that TikTok’s technology “is part of that strategy.”

“We need patriots who will fight back against the dangers imposed by this app and others that are no doubt on the way,” he said.

Surveillance Tool

TikTok is considered by U.S. officials to be a “sophisticated surveillance tool” at its core, masquerading as a fun social networking app. The app is also popular with U.S. service members who fail to see it as a national security threat, one U.S. official told a House hearing on protecting service members and veterans from scams in July.

“The app is not only full of toxic material, which is highly inappropriate for children, but it also opens us up to foreign threats,” Rokita said. “Specifically, it allows a Chinese company overseen by the CCP to take our data.”

The app has been banned from the devices of many U.S. state government smartphones but remains wildly popular with U.S. consumers.

Rokita called on Hoosier consumers, businesses, and governments to take the initiative to protect their personal data and privacy from the CCP. His office said TikTok captures and tracks Americans’ attention and behavior using their own smartphones.

TikTok logos are seen on smartphones in front of a displayed ByteDance logo in this illustration taken on Nov. 27, 2019. (Dado Ruvic/Reuters)
TikTok logos are seen on smartphones in front of a displayed ByteDance logo in this illustration taken on Nov. 27, 2019. (Dado Ruvic/Reuters)


Rokita announced two separate lawsuits against TikTok on Dec. 7, accusing it of falsely claiming the app was safe for children and illicitly sending U.S.-based users’ data to communist China.

The first complaint claims that TikTok enticed children to use the platform by misrepresenting the quantity of sexual content, vulgarity, and drug references as “infrequent,” when in fact the app contains “extreme examples of such material.”

The complaint also claims that promoting TikTok as safe and acceptable for minors aged 13 to 17 is an important aspect of the company’s business model.

According to the second lawsuit, TikTok owns large amounts of highly sensitive data and personal information on Indiana users and misled those consumers into believing that this information was safe from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which dominates China as a single-party state.

Tracking, Data Flows

TikTok logs the keystrokes of users with its in-app browser on Apple devices, including passwords and credit card numbers, according to a researcher who used to work for Google and Twitter.
App developer and privacy researcher Felix Krause published a report on the risks associated with some iOS apps injecting JavaScript code into third-party browsers.

TikTok confirmed that the code exists in its iOS app but claimed that it doesn’t use it.

TikTok has for years responded to privacy concerns by making assurances that U.S. data is stored in the United States and not China.

However, Buzzfeed reported on June 17 that 14 statements made by nine different TikTok employees indicated that “engineers in China had access to U.S. data between September 2021 and January 2022, at the very least.”
Following the report, the company admitted that data of TikTok’s U.S. and Australian users could be accessed in mainland China.

FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr told Congress in July that the flow of TikTok’s U.S. user data into China is “particularly troubling” given the CCP’s “track record of engaging in espionage and other nefarious acts.”

These concerns led FBI Director Christopher Wray to claim that TikTok is a national security threat.

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

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