China has stolen more American data than all other countries put together, announced The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at a US House of Representatives committee hearing.
“China’s vast hacking program is the world’s largest, and they have stolen more Americans’ personal and business data than every other nation combined,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray.
Wray was taking part in the House Homeland Security Committee’s annual worldwide threats hearing and pointed to the Chinese social media platform TikTok and its parent company ByteDance as a major data hacking concern.
“We do have national security concerns at least from the FBI’s end about TikTok,” Wray continued. “They include the possibility that the Chinese government could use (TikTok) to control data collection on millions of users or control the recommendation algorithm, which could be used for influence operations if they so chose or to control software on millions of devices, which gives the opportunity to potentially tactically compromised personal devices.”
The FBI is not the only US entity on high alert over TikTok’s operations in the US. Other government officials and members of Congress have expressed deep skepticism about the ability of the Chinese-owned video platform to protect American user information from Beijing.
TikTok has claimed that it does not store US user data in China, where the law allows the government to force companies to hand over internal information.
Wray said that law alone was “plenty of reason by itself to be extremely concerned.”
“As Director Wray specified in his remarks, the FBI’s input is being considered as part of our ongoing negotiations with the U.S. Government,” TikTok said in a statement. “While we can’t comment on the specifics of those confidential discussions, we are confident that we are on a path to fully satisfy all reasonable U.S. national security concerns.”
There are still unresolved questions about data sharing between Chinese companies and China’s government.
“There’s a number of concerns there as to what is actually happening and actually being done,” said Wray, who added that any details about TikTok’s actions would have to be discussed in a classified briefing. “It is certainly something that’s on our radar, and we share your concerns.”
The Biden administration has reportedly been nearing a deal with TikTok to allow the company to keep operating in the US under more stringent security measures, according to The New York Times.