US lawmakers have expressed concern that their military is using Chinese video-sharing app TikTok, arguing that users’ personal data could be collected by Beijing.
The US Army is reportedly using an app that allows users to post short videos from their mobile phones as part of a new recruitment campaign for young people. But politicians have warned that China’s data laws could put personal information at risk.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Tuesday that the army should “assess the potential national security risks posed by Chinese-owned technology companies” in light of “laws that require Chinese companies to support and cooperate with Chinese Communist Party-controlled intelligence work.” . , according to Reuters.
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Why is the US Army using TikTok?
In recent years, TikTok’s growth has been meteoric, becoming one of the most popular apps in the world. By the end of last year, it had been downloaded about 80 million times in the US and almost 800 million times worldwide, according to CNN.
The Wall Street Journal reports that last year the U.S. Army missed its recruiting target for the first time in more than a decade amid “decreasing interest among youth, a hot job market and ossified recruiting practices.”
Official government figures show that out of a target recruitment of 76,500, the army has only drawn about 70,000 into the army.
This year, however, the army reportedly gave recruiters “more leeway in using social media platforms” to recruit young people, “previously relying on phone calls,” the paper adds. TikTok appears to have been the focus of recruiters, with about 60% of the app’s 26.5 million monthly active users in the US being between the ages of 16 and 24.
And the change in strategy has been a success: the army has reached its goal of recruiting 68,000 active duty soldiers by September 2019.
Why is TikTok a problem?
TikTok has been the subject of controversy in Washington since its launch in 2017. That same year, Beijing-based app owner ByteDance acquired US social media app Musical.ly for $1 billion, which was later incorporated into TikTok.
Earlier this year, officials launched a national security review of the acquisition over concerns that the Chinese company “may censor politically sensitive content and raise questions about how it stores personal data,” Reuters reported.
Last month, lawmakers wrote to Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire warning about the content of the app’s terms of service, which they say allows it to “collect a user’s location, IP address, location-related data, device identifiers, cookies, metadata and other sensitive information,” BuzzFeed News said in a statement.
Now its use by the army is under the same scrutiny. On Nov. 7, Chuck Schumer wrote to U.S. Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy expressing concern about what he called the app’s commitment to “support and cooperate with Chinese Communist Party-controlled intelligence work,” the WSJ reported.
“While I acknowledge that the Army must adapt its recruiting practices to attract young Americans to serve, I urge you to assess the potential national security risks posed by Chinese tech companies before using certain platforms,” Schumer wrote in the magazine. email received by BuzzFeed.
He added that due to “the lack of transparency and the lack of an independent judiciary to review requests made by the Chinese government for user data or other actions,” there is currently “no legal mechanism for Chinese companies to appeal if they do not agree with the request.” “. .
How did TikTok react?
CNBC reports that TikTok has previously said it does not store data from its US users in China. He also confirmed that his data centers are located outside of China and are not subject to Chinese law.
“We are not under the influence of any foreign government, including the Chinese government; TikTok does not operate in China and we have no intention of doing so in the future,” TikTok previously wrote in a blog post.