National Security

FBI Director Tells Sen. Marco Rubio China Could Use TikTok To Control American Devices


James Lynch Contributor
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FBI Director Christopher Wray testified he believes the Chinese government could use its ties to ByteDance, owner of social media app TikTok, to control software on American devices.

Wray testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee in a Wednesday hearing about worldwide threats to U.S. security. An hour into the hearing, Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio asked Wray, “could the Chinese government, through its ownership of ByteDance … if they wanted to … could they use TikTok to control data on millions of users?” (RELATED: TikTok’s Security Protocols Won’t Prevent China From Spying On American Users, Analysts Warn)

“Yes,” Wray responded.

“Could they use it to control the software on millions of devices given the opportunity to do so?” Rubio asked as a follow up.

“Yes,” Wray said.

“Could they use it to drive narratives like to divide Americans against each other, for example?” Rubio continued.

“Yes,” Wray replied for a third time.

Rubio followed up by pressing Wray about the possibility of TikTok being used to push certain narratives to divide the American people. He gave an example of China invading Taiwan and promoting videos advocating for Chinese ownership of Taiwan and against U.S. intervention in defense of Taiwan’s sovereignty.

“I would make the point on that last one in particular that we’re not sure that we would see many of the outwards signs of it happening, if it was happening,” Wray said. “Something that’s very sacred in our country, the difference between the private sector and the public sector, that’s a line that is nonexistent in the way the CCP operates,” he added.

Wray previously sounded the alarm about China’s ability to collect American user data through TikTok. ByteDance employees allegedly accessed U.S. user data and surveilled American citizens, including Forbes journalist Emily Baker-White after she published critical stories about the company, according to reporting by Forbes.

The app is currently under national security review by the Biden administration, and negotiations have been stalled by persistent concerns from U.S. officials, The New York Times reported. Sen. Rubio introduced bipartisan legislation in December to ban TikTok from operating in the U.S. because of its ties to the Chinese government.