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Senators asks FTC Chair Lina Khan to probe TikTok's data practices

San Francisco, July 7 (IANS) Top US Senators have called on Lina Khan, Chairperson of Federal Trade Commission (FTC), to investigate short-video making app TikTok over its alleged data sharing practices with China-based workers.

In a letter to Khan, Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), Senate Intelligence Committee leaders, said that individuals in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) have been accessing data on US users.

In an interview with the online publication Cyberscoop, the Global Chief Security Officer for TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, made a number of public representations on the data security practices of TikTok, “including unequivocal claims that the data of American users is not accessible to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the government of the PRC”, reads the letter.

TikTok’s privacy practices are already subject to a consent decree with the FTC, based on its improper collection and processing of personal information from children.

“In light of this new report, we ask that your agency immediately initiate a Section 5 investigation on the basis of apparent deception by TikTok, and coordinate this work with any national security or counter-intelligence investigation that may be initiated by the US Department of Justice,” the Senators emphasised.

Last week, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew said that the short-video making platform has never provided data of US citizens to the Chinese government.

In a letter addressed to nine Republican Senators, the TikTok CEO said that they know “we are among the most scrutinised platforms from a security standpoint, and we aim to remove any doubt about the security of US user data”.

“We have not been asked for such data from the CCP (Chinese Community Party). We have not provided US user data to the CCP, nor would we if asked,” he stressed.

The letter was written after BuzzFeed News reported that China-based employees of internet giant ByteDance have repeatedly accessed data about US TikTok users.

In the letter to Khan, the Senators said that in light of repeated misrepresentations by TikTok concerning its data security, data processing, and corporate governance practices, “we urge you to act promptly on this matter”.

“TikTok may be collecting biometric data such as faceprints and voiceprints (individually-identifiable image and audio data, respectively), heightening the concern that data of US users may be vulnerable to extrajudicial access by security services controlled by the CCP,” the letter said.

–IANS

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