During his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 7, U.S. National Security Agency Director Paul Nakasone said that he was concerned about the data that Chinese-owned TikTok may be collecting from its users and how the social media platform could influence children in the U.S.
When asked by Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) about concerns he may have regarding TikTok's influence on American children, Nakasone answered, "TikTok concerns me for a number of different reasons. One is the date that they have."
"Secondly is the algorithm and the control, who controls the algorithm. Third is the broad platform influence operations, as we talked about previously. It's not only a fact that you influence something, but you can also turn off the message as well when you have such a large population of listeners," Nakasone added.
TikTok is of concern to the NSA, which is part of the Defense Department and is responsible for U.S. cryptographic and communications intelligence and security.
The Chinese social media platform is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance and has risen in popularity over recent years to now have more than 100 million American users.
Washington has continuously raised concerns that TikTok poses a threat to national security as American data is collected by the company and could potentially be used by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
There are also growing concerns that the algorithm that controls recommendations for the app can be used to manipulate what users see as part of influence operations.
In an effort to control the app's reach, last month, the Biden administration ordered that TikTok be removed from all government devices and systems within 30 days. Exceptions were made for cases of national security, law enforcement, and security research activities.
Meanwhile, Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and John Thune (R-SD), along with 12 other senators, introduced a bill intended to expand the federal government's power to include the ability to ban TikTok and other foreign-owned entities from operating in the U.S.
While TikTok must be removed from all government devices, the app can still be on the personal devices of government employees, and so far, there have been no official decisions made regarding moderating or banning access to it for the general public or kids.
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