In a U.S. Senate hearing on Wednesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray warned that the Chinese government could potentially exploit popular social media app TikTok to gain access to and control the data of millions of American users.
The concern is the latest in a series of security issues surrounding the app, which has faced intense scrutiny from U.S. officials over its ties to China.
"This is a tool that is ultimately within the control of the Chinese government - and it, to me, it screams out with national security concerns," Wray said.
At the hearing, other top U.S. intelligence officials, such as Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, CIA Director William Burns, and National Security Agency Director Paul Nakasone, all concurred that TikTok represented a threat to U.S. national security.
Tuesday, during his appearance before the Senate, Nakasone raised concern regarding TikTok's data collecting and its ability to allow broad influence operations.
The White House supported legislation filed by a dozen senators on Tuesday that would give President Joe Biden's administration additional authority to ban TikTok and other foreign technology if they represent a threat to national security.
The endorsement bolstered the attempts of a number of legislators to ban the popular app, which used by over 100 million Americans.
U.S. officials have expressed concern over TikTok, a popular social media app owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, due to the app's potential security risks. There are fears that the Chinese government could use TikTok to collect data on American users, which could be used for espionage and other nefarious purposes.
In addition, there are concerns that the app could be used to spread propaganda and misinformation to American users, potentially influencing public opinion on key issues. These concerns have led to calls for increased regulation of the app and even outright bans on its use by U.S. government employees and military personnel.
China has denied U.S. accusations that the popular social media app TikTok is being used as a tool for espionage. Chinese officials have argued that the app's U.S. user data is stored securely and that there is no evidence to suggest that the Chinese government has accessed or used this data for nefarious purposes.
China has also criticized the U.S. government's stance on TikTok, calling it an attempt to suppress Chinese technology companies and accusing the U.S. of engaging in "political manipulation" and violating international trade rules.
Despite these tensions, TikTok remains a popular app in both China and the U.S., with millions of users on both sides of the Pacific.