Hawley demands thorough review of new allegations by TikTok whistleblower

TikTok News Graphic V2

U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen, in her capacity as Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, demanding a thorough review of the whistleblower allegations recently brought to Senator Hawley.

“I write regarding new information brought to my attention by a former ByteDance employee with direct knowledge of TikTok’s operating practices,” wrote Senator Hawley. “As Chair of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, you are responsible for reviewing certain foreign transactions in the United States to determine potential threats to national security. This whistleblower’s allegations are deeply concerning. They also appear to contradict public statements made by TikTok and ByteDance executives.”

He continued, “These highly disturbing allegations are yet another reason why we should ban TikTok in the United States. Despite TikTok’s many reassurances that members of the Chinese Communist Party do not have access to U.S. data, it seems more and more likely that they do.”

Allegations include:

  • TikTok and ByteDance employees – including members of the Chinese Communist Party known to be on ByteDance’s payroll – can switch between Chinese and U.S. data with nothing more than the click of a button.
  • TikTok and ByteDance employees use tools that allow for easy access to U.S. data. Some tools only require approval from a manager and a dataset owner before a China-based employee can access U.S. data.
  • TikTok coordinates activities with its Chinese parent company, ByteDance. They use the same data analysis tools and chat apps, and managers are in constant contact.

In his letter, Senator Hawley pressed Secretary Yellen on whether or not CFIUS is already looking into the processes alleged by the whistleblower.

In January, Senator Hawley introduced the “No TikTok on United States Devices” Act to prohibit TikTok from being downloaded on U.S. devices and ban commercial activity with TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance.

Last year, Senator Hawley’s No TikTok on Government Devices Act prohibiting TikTok on federal government devices was signed into law. It went into effect last week.

Read the new letter at this link.