(CBS4) – Rep. Ken Buck, a Republican who represents Colorado’s 4th Congressional District, joined 24 of his Republican colleagues in sending a letter expressing support for the Trump Administration’s efforts to stop TikTok, and other social media companies, from stealing Americans’ data.

“These popular apps’ data collection practices, coupled with China’s onerous cybersecurity laws requiring all companies operating in China, including TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, to share user data with CCP authorities, present a very real threat to U.S. national security. As such, we urge your administration to take decisive action to protect the American people’s privacy and safety,” Rep. Buck and co-signers wrote. “It is clear that the United States should not trust TikTok or any other Chinese-affiliated social media websites or apps to protect Americans’ data, privacy, or security. As such, we urge you to take strong action to stop the CCP’s sophisticated espionage campaign against our country and protect our national security.”

The letter comes just three days after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News that the U.S. is “looking at” banning TikTok and other Chinese social media apps due to national security concerns. In the interview, Mr. Pompeo advised against downloading the app unless “you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”

A TikTok spokesperson pushed back on Pompeo’s comments, saying to CBS News earlier this week: “TikTok is led by an American CEO, with hundreds of employees and key leaders across safety, security, product, and public policy here in the U.S. We have no higher priority than promoting a safe and secure app experience for our users. We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked.”

The app, launched by the company ByteDance in 2016, has been downloaded over one billion times worldwide. It allows users to make short videos and has seen rapid growth since its inception. Its policies state that it does collect user data like IP addresses, location and device information but the company has repeatedly denied that it works with China.

The full letter sent to the administration can be seen below:

The Honorable Donald J. Trump
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20502

Dear President Trump:

We write to support your administration’s efforts to restrict TikTok and other social media sites linked to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from accessing U.S. markets. These popular apps’ data collection practices, coupled with China’s onerous cyber security laws requiring all companies operating in China, including TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, to share user data with CCP authorities, present a very real threat to U.S. national security. As such, we urge your administration to take decisive action to protect the American people’s privacy and safety.

In June, India took the extraordinary step of banning 60 Chinese-affiliated mobile apps, including TikTok, due to national security concerns. However, the CCP’s systemic campaign to collect and illicitly transmit user data for the Chinese government’s purposes is not unique to Indian consumers. In fact, Chinese authorities currently enjoy relatively unrestricted access to U.S. consumer and government data through the country’s advanced data mining policies. As evidence, TikTok’s privacy policy for U.S. residents is upfront about the vast quantity of user data it collects and shares with the CCP:

“We automatically collect certain information from you when you use the Platform, including internet or other network activity information such as your IP address, geolocation-related data…,unique device identifiers, browser and search history (including content you have viewed in the Platform), and Cookies.”

Additionally, the company’s privacy policy notes that it “also collect[s] information you share with [TikTok] from third-party social network providers, and technical and behavioral information about your use of the Platform.”[1] As U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently stated, Americans should only use this app, “if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”
Furthermore, TikTok’s censorship of user content to advance the CCP’s foreign policy aims is deeply concerning. Leaked documents[2] detail instructions to ban videos on the app that mention Tiananmen Square, Tibetan independence, or banned religious groups. Moreover, an Australian Strategic Policy Institute report recently found that ByteDance works closely with the Chinese government to enable human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims[3] by disseminating the CCP’s state propaganda. ByteDance is also required under Chinese law to provide seats on the company’s board of directors to CCP officials, further cementing the authoritarian government’s role in setting these policies.

It is clear that the United States should not trust TikTok or any other Chinese-affiliated social media websites or apps to protect Americans’ data, privacy, or security. As such, we urge you to take strong action to stop the CCP’s sophisticated espionage campaign against our country and protect our national security. Thank you in advance for your attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,

Rep. Ken. Buck

Rep. Jim Banks
Rep. Andy Biggs
Rep. Ted Budd
Rep. Rick Crawford
Rep. Jeff Duncan
Rep. Neal P. Dunn, M.D.
Rep. Matt Gaetz
Rep. Bobb Gibbs
Rep. Louie Gohmert
Rep. Paul Gosar, D.D.S.
Rep. Michael Guest
Rep. Jody Hice
Rep. Steve King
Rep. Doug LaMalfa
Rep. Doug Lamborn
Rep. Tom McClintock
Rep. Ralph Norman
Rep. Scott Perry
Rep. Tom Rice
Rep. Chip Roy
Rep. Ross Spano
Rep. W. Gregory Steube
Rep. Jackie Walorski
Rep. Ted S. Yoho, D.V.M.

CC: The Honorable Michael R. Pompeo, United States Secretary of State

Comments
  1. This may be taken as a hopeful sign — the enemy Fascist’s constituents are not reproducing.

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