U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) said former President Donald Trump was correct about social media app TikTok.
“This is not something you would normally hear me say but Donald Trump was right on TikTok years ago,” Sen. Warner said during a working visit to Australia.
Trump signed a 2020 Executive Order banning new downloads of TikTok that is owned by ByteDance, a company registered in the People’s Republic of China. Trump said the app collected too much information about U.S. users.
“This data collection threatens to provide foreign adversaries with access to that information,” the former president said at the time.
A judge put a hold on the Trump EO while a lawsuit against it was adjudicated. President Joe Biden revoked the order in June 2021.
The Sydney Morning Herald further reported:
China’s growing technological dominance should “scare the heck” out of democratic nations such as Australia and is a more worrying short-term threat than its rapid military build-up, says the head of the high-powered United States Senate intelligence committee.
Mark Warner, one of the most senior Democrats in the US Congress, said he harboured deep concerns about the privacy and national security risks of popular Chinese-owned social media app TikTok.
“If your country uses Huawei, if your kids are on TikTok, if your population uses WeChat as a social media platform, the ability for China to have undue influence is, I think, a much greater challenge and a much more immediate threat than any kind of actual, armed conflict,” Warner said.
“China having this kind of technology domination in a number of countries ought to scare the heck out of us because we’ve seen the kind of Orwellian surveillance state they’ve already created within China.”
As head of the powerful Senate intelligence committee, Warner has access to classified assessments from the nation’s top spy agencies and is legally required to be informed of covert actions and significant intelligence failures.
China’s National Intelligence Law requires organisations and citizens to “support, assist and co-operate with the state intelligence work”.
Noting the US Armed Forces has ordered American service members not to download the video-sharing app, Warner said he would not want it on any of his devices.
Australian parents should be worried about how much their children’s data was being harvested by the app, he said.
“The level of code in TikTok is exponentially higher, for example, than the lines of code in Facebook,” said Warner, who was a successful technology entrepreneur before entering politics.
It would be hard to ever describe the app as “fully safe” while that code is written in China, he said.
Warner recently led a successful effort to secure $82 billion in funding to revive an American semiconductor manufacturing industry to reduce reliance on Chinese imports. Semiconductor chips are necessary for everything from cars to iPhones to electric toothbrushes.
He said he was now focused on preventing China from dominating cutting-edge fields such as artificial intelligence and synthetic biology, which includes the development of genetically modified foods and new medical drugs.
“There are national security reasons not to allow China to dominate these spaces,” he said. “We need to make sure that we have Western competitors.”
Scroll down to leave a comment and share your thoughts.