Senators force CFIUS to cover up TikTok probe with serious restrictions

February 21, 2023: The panel reviewed TikTok’s national security risks and is facing increased force to wrap up its investigation of the famous video-sharing app and impose strict restrictions on how the firm can continue operating in the U.S.

Two senators on either area of the aisle sent a note to Janet Yellen, Treasury Secretary and Chair of the group on Foreign Investment in the U.S., on Thursday, who urges the panel “to swiftly finish its investigation and putting strict structural restrictions between TikTok’s American operations and its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, which include potentially separating the companies.”

The lawmakers, Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., naming chair of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee being present, and Jerry Moran, R-Kan., a person of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said TikTok’s ability collecting troves of data mixing with its ability to alter its algorithm pushing or suppress specific posts makes it particularly concerning.

The lawmakers are pointing to media reports uncovering TikTok workers had spied on American journalists and leaked internal audio that showed China-based ByteDance workers accessed U.S. user data. ByteDance fired four employees stated improperly accessed the information on U.S. journalists. The firm has stated that U.S. user data is not stored in China and that it tests its security measures.

That access would be particularly worrying since China’s national security laws permit it to compel firms based there to hand more than information if the administration believes a national security issue is at play. The Justice Department is a person on the multi-agency committee person the firm. The Department of Justice’s Deputy lawyer General Lisa Monaco stated that she does not utilize TikTok for that reason and would advise others to utilize it.

CFIUS’s probe into TikTok stems from ByteDance’s 2017 acquisition of U.S. company The committee is empowered to invest in foreign investments and dealings with potential national security risks.

But the investigation has been going on for years, with solutions proving challenging to finalize and a few intelligence officials still raising concerns about the potential for the Chinese administration to access U.S. user data and manipulate consumers.

Blumenthal and Moran warn CFIUS against making a deal that would only need TikTok and ByteDance to alter certain practices.

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