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Concerns regarding alleged security risks posed by TikTok have most prominently been raised by US lawmakers and national security officials who say that user data gathered by the app could be accessed by the Chinese government.
Calls to ban TikTok from government devices gained momentum after FBI Director Christopher Wray said in November it poses national security risks.
The company’s CEO, Shou Zi Chew, pushed back on assertions that TikTok or ByteDance are tools of the Chinese government during questioning by US lawmakers on Thursday. The company has been reiterating that 60 percent of ByteDance is owned by global institutional investors.
A law China implemented in 2017 requires companies to give the government any personal data relevant to the country’s national security. There’s no evidence that TikTok has turned over such data, but fears abound due to the vast amount of user data it collects.
Beijing has accused Washington of spreading disinformation and suppressing TikTok.
Earlier this month, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said the US has yet to present evidence that TikTok threatens its national security and was using the excuse of data security to abuse its power to suppress foreign companies.