Exclusive – Senator Tom Cotton: TikTok Is the Chinese Communist Party’s ‘Trojan Horse’

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., interrupts a fellow senator during a confirmation hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee for CIA nominee Gina Haspel, on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, May 9, 2018 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) told SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Daily host Alex Marlow on Thursday that social media app TikTok is “a Trojan Horse” that “vacuums up” all of the data on Americans’ phones for the Chinese Communist Party, and that the app must either sever all ties with its China or “be banned from the United States.”

“Mostly users of TikTok just experience it as a fun, video-sharing app, and that’s what it looks like when you touch the app on the screen of your phone,” said Cotton. “What you don’t see is the background, which is a Trojan Horse for the data on your phone. It vacuums up your email, your text messages, your photographs, your browser history, even your keystrokes.”

“All that goes back to servers in China, which means all that data about you is accessible to the Chinese Communist Party,” he added. “We cannot continue to allow that threat to the privacy and the security — especially to the children.”

The senator added that TikTok must either “sever all ties with its Chinese parent or with China entirely, or it has to be banned from the United States.”

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“If it’s possible to sever ties entirely,” continued Cotton, “and I don’t just mean putting servers and data in the United States, it has to sever all ties. No source code. No algorithms. No China-based employees. It has to sever everything, then, that would make TikTok safe for American users.”

“If that is not possible,” he added, “if they are not willing or able to do that, then TikTok cannot be allowed to operate in the U.S. anymore, it’s too dangerous for our kids.”

Last week, President Donald Trump said that he will take action to ban the Chinese-owned video app from the United States.

Senator Cotton also mentioned that Microsoft is exploring a purchase of TikTok’s U.S. operations and some of their other non-China operations, which could be an alternative to banning the app.

“I have confidence in the ability of Microsoft — which is a major defense contractor as well — to do the technical assessment, and be able to present it to the federal government,” said Cotton.

“And the federal government has a lot of great experts in this area — whether it’s the NSA, or the Department of Energy, or the CIA,” the senator added.

Chinese state media has reacted to the prospective U.S. ban on TikTok by publishing editorials slamming the Trump administration for “robbery” and a “flagrant heist” because the app will only survive in the U.S. if Microsoft agrees to purchase it.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, on Parler at @alana, and on Instagram.

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