The Biden administration issued an order Monday giving federal agencies 30 days to remove the Chinese-owned TikTok app from official government devices. The action was ordered by Congress late last year and, according to Reuters, is being taken “in a bid to keep U.S. data safe.”
But those concerns apparently haven’t reached the Pennsylvania congressional delegation where at least three members still have TikTok accounts.
A review by States Newsroom in January found just 32 members of Congress, including seven senators, had TikTok accounts. Sens. Casey and Fetterman were two of them. Indeed, Fetterman joined TikTok last summer, long after the company’s problematic policies were well known.
TikTok has long been singled out for the app’s aggressive data collection, data that under Chinese law is accessible by the Communist Party regime that governs the nation. In addition to the data you give TikTok, the app also tracks what non-TikTok sites users visit, other apps you use, what you record using your phone camera and mic, and what content you watch using your phone, according to The Washington Post.
And while the parent company, ByteDance, says it keeps its U.S. data secure, “it’s still compelled to comply with requests for user data under Chinese law,” the Post notes.
In August 2020, former President Donald Trump issued an executive order banning new downloads of TikTok in the U.S. But it was never enacted and President Joe Biden rescinded the order when he took office.
Concerns about China’s espionage policies came to the fore when the public discovered the Biden administration was allowing a Chinese spy balloon to traverse the U.S. uninterrupted. Biden ordered the balloon shot down over the Atlantic Ocean off the South Carolina coast.
“The ban of TikTok on federal devices was passed in December without any deliberation, and unfortunately that approach has served as a blueprint for other world governments,” said a TikTok spokeswoman.
“These bans are little more than political theater. We hope that when it comes to addressing national security concerns about TikTok beyond government devices, Congress will explore solutions that won’t have the effect of censoring the voices of millions of Americans.
“The swiftest and most thorough way to address any national security concerns about TikTok is for CFIUS to adopt the proposed agreement that we worked with them on for nearly two years. These plans have been developed under the oversight of our country’s top national security agencies, and we are well underway in implementing them to further secure our platform in the United States,” she said.