TSA Bans Employees from Using China-Owned TikTok App

TikTok video app
AFP/Getty

The TSA stated on Sunday that it was banning employees from using the Chinese-owned social media app TikTok for online outreach.

Axios reports that the TSA recently stated that it was banning all employees from using the Chinese-owned app TikTok for social media outreach. The decision reportedly came shortly after Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) sent the agency a letter raising issues with the app’s security.

Schumer, along with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, have called for the U.S. government to investigate whether or not TikTok poses any “national security risks.” The app has been downloaded 110 million times in the United States alone. Lawmakers have worried that the app could be used to collect sensitive data on American users as tensions between the countries continue to escalate.

Schumer reportedly sent a letter to TSA Administrator David Pekoske in which he cited a ruling from the Department of Homeland Security which banned the use of TikTok on agency devices. Schumer told the Associated Press: “Given the widely reported threats, the already-in-place agency bans, and the existing concerns posed by TikTok, the feds cannot continue to allow the TSA’s use of the platform to fly.”

On Sunday, the TSA stated: “A small number of TSA employees have previously used TikTok on their personal devices to create videos for use in TSA’s social media outreach, but that practice has since been discontinued.”

In October 2019, Sen. Marco Rubio called on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to review the acquisition of social media app Musical.ly by TikTok owner Beijing ByteDance Technology Co. over claims that TikTok is used by the Chinese government to censor certain political content.

Rubio stated in a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that Chinese-owned apps “are increasingly being used to censor content and silence open discussion on topics deemed sensitive by the Chinese Government and Communist Party.” The Treasury secretary heads the CFIUS, which reviews mergers such as that of Musical.ly and TikTok to ensure that they do not damage national security.

Later in October 2019, Sen. Schumer and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) asked the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, to investigate the Chinese-owned social media app TikTok to determine if it poses “national security risks.”

“With over 110 million downloads in the U.S. alone, TikTok is a potential counterintelligence threat we cannot ignore,” wrote Schumer and Cotton, who currently sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee. “Given these concerns, we ask that the Intelligence Community conduct an assessment of the national security risks posed by TikTok and other China-based content platforms operating in the U.S. and brief Congress on these findings.”

TikTok published a response to this in an unsigned blog post in which the company stressed its independence from China. The firm stated that it is not “subject to Chinese law,” and stressed that it has “never been asked by the Chinese government to remove any content and we would not do so if asked.”

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or email him at lnolan@breitbart.com

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