28th March 2023 – (California) The head of cybersecurity for the US National Security Agency’s cybersecurity directorate, Rob Joyce, has described TikTok as a “strategic issue” for the country’s national security. Speaking at a policy conference in Northern California, Joyce reiterated the agency’s earlier position that the Chinese-owned social networking app is akin to a “loaded gun” that the Chinese government could use to influence what information Americans see. Joyce said China could use its influence on TikTok to suppress information that might make the nation look bad to Americans.
Joyce’s remarks echo earlier warnings by FBI Director Christopher Wray and NSA Director Paul Nakasone, who told US lawmakers that TikTok could be used to carry out sweeping influence campaigns. The concerns have resulted in growing bipartisan support in Congress for stricter regulation of the app. U.S. President Joe Biden has signalled his support for legislation introduced by a dozen Senators that would give him the power to ban TikTok and other foreign technologies if they pose a national security risk.
Last week, TikTok CEO Chew Shou Zi faced a grilling from members of the U.S. House of Representatives over the app’s data-handling practices. The bipartisan concern over TikTok’s 150 million users in the U.S. was reflected in the hearing, with Chew repeatedly denying the app shares data or has connections with the Chinese Communist Party.
Despite TikTok’s assurances, the future of the app in the U.S. remains uncertain. While TikTok has repeatedly denied sharing data with the Chinese government, the app has been subject to intense scrutiny from U.S. lawmakers and agencies for its ties to China. The concerns stem from a 2017 Chinese law that requires Chinese companies to cooperate with the country’s intelligence agencies.