FBI Chief Warns On TikTok As Senate Set To Back Ban

As the US Senate prepares to approve a TikTok ban, the FBI chief on Tuesday underlined security concerns about the popular Chinese-owned app.

FBI Director Christopher Wray said that TikTok parent company ByteDance is “beholden to the Chinese government” which is “attempting to steal our AI and hack American technology every day.”

Americans must think of TikTok’s “power, access, capability, control” as being in the hands of the Chinese government and intelligence service, Wray said in an interview with NBC News.

Wray echoed concerns that TikTok poses a threat to US national security.

TikTok has adamantly denied sharing any user information with the Chinese government.

The US Senate could vote Tuesday on a major aid package for Ukraine, in legislation that also sets the stage to ban video-snippet sharing app TikTok.

Its passage is all but certain after the House of Representatives — following months of wrangling — approved the much awaited bill with broad bipartisan support.

Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer, whose party narrowly controls the chamber, said that an agreement had been “locked in” for a vote on Tuesday.

The final package contains a measure to ban TikTok if it doesn’t soon cut ties with its Chinese parent company ByteDance.

The popular app has come under scrutiny from lawmakers accusing it of being under Chinese government influence, while supporters have decried a ban as a free speech infringement.

The bill would give ByteDance as long as a year to sell TikTok or be banned in the United States, according to Wedbush analyst Dan Ives.

Likely buyers for TikTok would be Microsoft or Oracle, the analyst said in a note to investors.

“The broader worry is retaliation from China could come from this forced sale/ban of TikTok and add more pressure for regulatory and geopolitical headwinds US companies face… within mainland China,” Ives added.

Meta is expected to be the biggest beneficiary of a TikTok ban, with fans of the app resorting to Facebook or Instagram. – AFP

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