The U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, of which Florida’s Marco Rubio is the ranking Republican member, called Wednesday for a federal probe into the TikTok platform.
Rubio and committee Chairman Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat, urged the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to formally investigate the social media company and its parent company, ByteDance.
This call comes in the wake of recent media reports “that the social media platform has permitted TikTok engineers and executives in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to repeatedly access U.S. users’ private data,” a release from Rubio’s office claims.
The letter to FTC chair Lina Khan references previous “unequivocal claims” from ByteDance leadership “that the data of American users is not accessible to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the government of the PRC,” claims now clearly in doubt.
Warner and Rubio urge an immediate “investigation on the basis of apparent deception by TikTok,” and they want that coordinated “with any national security or counter-intelligence investigation that may be initiated by the U.S. Department of Justice.”
At issue, the Senators say, is data and biometric security itself. ByteDance allowed “PRC-based employees unfettered access to user information, including birthdates, phone numbers, and device identification information.”
Rubio has offered warnings about TikTok for years now, even before the Joe Biden presidency.
He and other Republican Senators wrote Donald Trump administration officials with grave concerns that “the Chinese Communist Party could use its control over TikTok to distort or manipulate conversations to sow discord among Americans and to achieve its preferred political outcomes.”
Last July, Rubio urged President Joe Biden to block TikTok completely in light of the Chinese government taking an ownership stake in the company.
“Beijing’s aggressiveness makes clear that the regime sees TikTok as an extension of the party-state, and the U.S. needs to treat it that way,” Rubio warned.