Senators Urge Investigation Into TikTok's Data Security 'Misrepresentations'

The Senate Intelligence Committee's letter to the Federal Trade Commission on TikTok comes after a BuzzFeed News report on TikTok user data access in China.

Two U.S. senators are calling on the Federal Trade Commission to look into TikTok for “repeated misrepresentations” of how it’s used U.S. user data.

Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), the chair and vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, respectively, wrote to FTC Chair Lina Khan to request it look into the social media platform and its China-based parent company, ByteDance.

The letter comes in the wake of a BuzzFeed News report that referenced leaked audio recordings showing ByteDance employees “repeatedly” accessing U.S. user data on the app.

BuzzFeed News is owned by the same parent company as HuffPost.

The senators, in their joint letter, asked for an investigation due to “apparent deception by TikTok” and suggested the app misrepresented corporate governance practices, data security and data processing.

The call to investigate TikTok comes less than a week after Brendan Carr, chair of the Federal Communications Commission, asked Google and Apple to remove the app from their app stores following the BuzzFeed News report.

TikTok Vice President Michael Beckerman, in a statement on Tuesday, wrote that company engineering teams “around the world,” including those in China, “might need access to data for engineering functions that are specifically tied to their roles.”

“That access is subject to a series of robust controls, safeguards like encryption for certain data and authorization approval protocols overseen by our U.S.-based leadership/security team.”

TikTok, in a statement to CNN, previously called the BuzzFeed News report “misleading.”

Last month, TikTok announced it would move its U.S. user data from Virginia and Singapore-based servers to a cloud platform, CNN reported.

The calls for an investigation come after a number of years of TikTok data security concerns and a Trump administration attempt to ban TikTok from app stores in 2020.

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