Senate Intel. Chair Warner: ‘My Patience Is Running Thin’ with Biden over TikTok, The Review’s Lasted over Two Years

On Thursday’s broadcast of the Fox Business Network’s “Claman Countdown,” Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) stated that his “patience is running thin” with the Biden administration and TikTok and noted that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) has been reviewing TikTok for two years.

Warner said, “I’ve been raising concerns about TikTok for months, and let’s go into the two concerns I have: One, the amount of data that TikTok is collecting — since so many of our users are our kids — on our kids that that data resides in China. And even though TikTok has said that’s not the case, there have been constant examples where it has been proven that Chinese engineers are still getting access to that data. The second piece is frankly, Liz, more concerning to me…the algorithms that drive what you see very much [are] controlled by the TikTok leadership. And my concern since every company in China now has to owe its first allegiance, not to shareholders or customers, but to the Communist Party, that they could — the Communist Party could say, well, we don’t want to show any videos that are [at] all flattering to Taiwan, or we want to make sure any video about Taiwan only shows Taiwan as part of China. So, the ability to use this as a misinformation or propaganda piece is huge.”

He added, “I think we need a legal basis, most likely in [the] Commerce Department, that would give this ability to look at these applications and foreign technology from a national security standpoint and give that entity the tools to limit, or in certain cases ban, foreign technology security applications. The thing is that we’re doing it ad hoc at this point. We need to get ahead of this, rather than what we’ve been doing, for example, with Huawei and now with TikTok, chasing after the fact.”

Warner further stated that CFIUS “is one way to attack.” But they’ve been looking at TikTok for two years and “There are some legal problems even there. But if this was easy, I think the Justice Department and Treasury would have come up with a solution. On these technology problems where if the source code still resides in China and if the engineers are updating these applications — they’re not static — on a regular basis, where are those upgrades coming from? So, I’ve said I’m willing to give Tiktok and the Biden administration the chance to make the case, but my patience is running thin. And now you see my friend Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) calling for its removal, you’ve got governors of both parties doing it on the state level. I’m not saying it’s impossible to have a technology proposition here that could separate, but it’s a big, big hill to climb. And that’s why I think we need, again, a firmer legal basis to go forward, not just on TikTok. But — this is not going to be the last time we have a foreign technology national security issue.”

Warner also said that as long as the source code for TikTok remains in China, there’s no way to stop them from manipulating the app’s algorithm for propaganda purposes.

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett


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