Republican Senators Warn Of TikTok's 'Serious Security Risks'

Warning of ongoing security risks, six Republican Senators are pressing the Biden Administration to address data practices of the Chinese-owned social network TikTok.

“We write to inquire about the Biden Administration's delayed response to the national security and privacy risks posed by TikTok,” GOP Senators Tom Cotton (Arkansas), Ben Sasse (Nebraska), Mike Braun (Indiana), Marco Rubio (Florida), Todd Young (Indiana), and Roger Wicker (Mississippi) said in a letter sent late last week to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

The letter came one week after Buzzfeed reported that ByteDance employees in China have accessed data about U.S. users of the service.

Two days after that report came out, TikTok said it is routing all U.S. traffic to Oracle servers, and plans to store all U.S. users' data in this country.

But the lawmakers tell Yellen that arrangement “would do little to address the core security concerns” about the service.

“If the Biden Administration focuses solely on data storage and integrity to the exclusion of the critical issue of ByteDance's ownership, control, and influence of TikTok, serious security risks will remain,” they write.

In August of 2020, Trump issued an executive order that would have resulted in bans of TikTok and the messaging app WeChat from app marketplaces.

That order was revoked last year by President Joe Biden, who instead ordered the Commerce Department to study the threats posed by some foreign countries' data collection. Biden also directed the Commerce Department to issue recommendations to protect U.S. residents from the potential harm posed by the transfer of their sensitive data -- including personally identifiable information, health and genetic information -- to foreign adversaries.

Cotton and the others are asking Yellen to answer a host of questions about TikTok's plan to store data in the U.S., including how the government plans to enforce that promise.

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