TikTok’s China connection is setting off alarms in US politics

The viral video app seems to be freaking Capitol Hill out, and lawmakers want action.

Presley Ann/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

For weeks now, TikTok has sparked national security concerns on Capitol Hill and now the short viral video app is reportedly undergoing a detailed review, according to Reuters. The review from The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) arrives after American lawmakers — both Democrat and Republican — asked federal intelligence agencies to look into TikTok's impact on American national security.

Viral communism — Lawmakers say that TikTok could be used to surveil Americans, turning them into unwitting assets for China. In a joint statement, US Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Tom Cotton said that TikTok could be used to “to support and cooperate with intelligence work controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.” According to TikTok, 60 percent of the viral app’s 26.5 million users are young Americans ranging between the age of 16 to 24.

What does TikTok have to say? — TikTok officially responded to the concerns by noting that their “data centers are located entirely outside of China, and none of our data is subject to Chinese law.” The company also claimed that it had a “dedicated technical team focused on adhering to robust cybersecurity policies, and data privacy and security practices.” The response still didn’t seem to allay worries as lawmakers, like Republican senator Josh Hawley, have said they want ByteDance officials to testify on Capitol Hill.

Don’t panic just yet — If this rhetoric about TikTok reminds you of Capitol Hill’s worries over Russian meddling via social media networks, then you’re not wrong. Lawmakers say they don’t want to repeat the same mistakes that led to Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election. But given the vagueness of the concerns and the fairly lighthearted nature of the app, it’s going to be difficult for lawmakers to make the connections this early in the game.