WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., joined U.S. Senator Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and four other senators to call on Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to provide answers about actions the Biden administration is taking to combat the national security risks associated with TikTok, a social media platform developed and owned by Chinese company ByteDance Ltd.
TikTok is one of the most popular social media platforms, with over 500 million users worldwide. The platform’s owner is subject to control by the Chinese government, which could allow the Chinese Communist Party access to U.S. users’ sensitive personal information. President Trump issued two orders in August 2020 to restrict American access and direct ByteDance to destroy acquired data.
While President Biden revoked the first order in June 2021, the August 14 Presidential Order requiring ByteDance to divest its American assets, property, and data is still in effect. The senators called out the lack of action and demanded the Biden Administration take steps to address the severe security concerns.
“The Biden Administration has seemingly done nothing to enforce the August 14 order nearly two years since its promulgation,” the senators wrote. “The results of the security reviews, likewise, have not been publicly released after one year. Instead, news reports indicate TikTok is nearing a deal with a U.S. company to ‘store its U.S. users’ information without its Chinese parent ByteDance having access to it, hoping to address U.S. regulatory concerns.’”
“The proposed TikTok deal would do little to address the core security concerns that motivated the August 14 order. That order was not simply concerned about data, but about a Chinese company’s ownership of a social media platform in America. If the Biden Administration focuses solely on data storage and integrity to the exclusion of the critical issue of ByteDance’s ownership, control, and influence of TikTok, serious security risks will remain and the August 14 order will go unenforced,” the senators concluded.
The letter was also signed by U.S. Senators Ben Sasse, R-Neb., Mike Braun, R-Ind., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Todd Young, R-Ind.
The full text of the letter can be found here.
Wicker supported the August 14 order in 2020, after expressing concerns about TikTok’s policies in the past. See his 2020 letter to President Trump here and his 2021 letter to Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo here.