FBI director: TikTok could be China's best espionage tool

Alfonso Maruccia

Posts: 198   +94
Staff
Why it matters: Chris Wray has once again shared Washington's concerns over TikTok, an incredibly popular video app that could pose an unprecedented threat to US security. The issue is in the algorithm, and its permeability to the Communist Party's dystopian techno-control apparatus.

TikTok is a formidable tool for espionage and mass control, and the Chinese communist dictatorship could do whatever they want with it. These, in brief, are the concerns expressed by FBI director Christopher Wray while attending an event at the University of Michigan's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

Wray once again described TikTok, an extremely popular video app from ByteDance with 80 million active monthly users in the US and a billion active users worldwide, as a potential threat to US national security,

The most pressing issue with TikTok, Wray remarked, is its recommendations algorithm, which could be used by Beijing authorities to "manipulate content, and if they want to, to use it for influence operations." The Communist Party could also collect user data for more traditional espionage operations, Wray said.

All these tools for control and espionage are "in the hands of a government that doesn't share our values," the FBI director said, further stating that China has "a mission that's very much at odds with what's in the best interests of the United States." These are things that should concern the US government and citizens as well.

Wray's remarks fall perfectly in line with the opinions expressed by many US politicians, with substantial bipartisan support for a total ban of TikTok in the country. FCC commissioner Brendan Carr previously said the US government should enforce a national ban against the Chinese app while the government works with ByteDance to clear up all the security concerns about TikTok.

A potential solution to TikTok's espionage capabilities would be a partnership with a US company like Oracle to route the traffic of US users through US-based servers, something that TikTok started doing in June. Wray doesn't seem convinced though, as he said this is a matter being discussed within the Committee on Foreign Investment in Washington.

Meanwhile, ByteDance is confident about the current (confidential) discussions it is holding with the US government. TikTok is "on a path to fully satisfy all reasonable U.S. national security concerns," the company said, and they "have already made significant strides toward implementing those solutions."

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DSirius

Posts: 380   +801
TechSpot Elite
Finnaly FBI director Chris Wray has to answer to american people and also to the entire world which is the better and formidable tool for espionage and mass control from: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google, Microsoft, Apple and TikTok.
In his hypocrisy is FBI director Chris Wray whinning that chinese TikTok is better than all these american corporate espionage tools disguised as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Microsoft, Google and Apple services?
Indeed, tough questions for FBI director to respond when you hide the truth and chose to embrace american double standards, I mean american version of orwellian double thinking.
Funny for the rest of the world to watch if US govern will ban TikTok, so the rest of the world to have the perfect reason to do the same for all of these american corporate espionage tools disguised as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Microsoft, Google and Apple "services".
It seems that US govern will shoot on his own foots with this one.
 
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emmzo

Posts: 817   +1,252
Finnaly FBI director Chris Wray has to answer to american people and also to the entire world which is the better and formidable tool for espionage and mass control from: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google, Microsoft, Apple and TikTok.
In his hypocrisy did FBI director Chris Wray is whinning that chinese TikTok is better than all these american corporate espionage tools disguised as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Microsoft, Google and Apple services?
Indeed, tough questions for FBI director to respond when you hide the truth and chose to embrace american double standards, I mean american version of orwellian double thinking.
Funny for the rest of the world to watch if US govern will ban TikTok, so the rest of the world to have the perfect reason to do the same for all of these american corporate espionage tools disguised as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Microsoft, Google and Apple services.
It seems that US govern will shoot on his own foots with this one.
American spy tools, FB, Twitter are also blocked in China. I agree about US double standards, I think they should ban them all, until a proper review is underway, but still, TikTok should be first on that list. The unfortunate consequence of this is helping FB getting back into the game, whereas they couldn't by means of pure competition.
 

Watzupken

Posts: 762   +645
Finnaly FBI director Chris Wray has to answer to american people and also to the entire world which is the better and formidable tool for espionage and mass control from: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google, Microsoft, Apple and TikTok.
In his hypocrisy did FBI director Chris Wray is whinning that chinese TikTok is better than all these american corporate espionage tools disguised as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Microsoft, Google and Apple services?
Indeed, tough questions for FBI director to respond when you hide the truth and chose to embrace american double standards, I mean american version of orwellian double thinking.
Funny for the rest of the world to watch if US govern will ban TikTok, so the rest of the world to have the perfect reason to do the same for all of these american corporate espionage tools disguised as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Microsoft, Google and Apple services.
It seems that US govern will shoot on his own foots with this one.
The problem with US is that they see themselves as the "good guys" and everything they do is for the good of everyone. Anyone else that do what is contrary is a villain or portrayed as a villain in the media. Its ironic and hypocritical of them to call others out when they are clearly doing the same if not worst.
 

dangh

Posts: 858   +1,452
Lol... this is just an application, and I'm pretty sure it is not difficult to reverse engineer that thing to find what data is send to the servers and if it is more than FB or even Whatsapp does.

The main problem here probably is that this is huge, successful IT company and application on which US have no control of and that's triggers government badly.
 

hwertz

Posts: 212   +124
A) People have already done an excellent job pointing out the hypocrisy here. Seconded on that.

B) What difference would it make placing US users data in an Oracle cloud? Of course it can help the US be able to spy on their own citizens (to what extent I'm not sure, if the data is all encrypted and secured then there may be no unauthorized access, including by the U.S. gov't.). But, clearly (if you buy this being some big spy tool), Beiing can just encrypt the connection(s) between Beijing and the Oracle servers and pump out the exact same info they'd get if the servers were based in China.
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 3,396   +4,411
Ah yes, here we go again! The USA has a new boogeyman to scare its citizens with so that they won't question how much money they waste with military spending.

"TikTok could be China's best espionage tool"
This statement, as absurd as it is, points to a much bigger problem in the USA. That problem is the scary reality that the average American isn't smart enough to realise that this statement is galactic-level stupid. If TikTok really is China's best espionage tool, then that raises some concerns about the conduct of the US government.

This is because it would mean that having Huawei 5G equipment wouldn't have been the big deal that the US government claimed (which I never believed anyway) and it would mean that the US is using their own social media for the same purpose. After all, if they claim that China's doing it, it means they must understand how China's doing it. If they understand how China's doing it, that means they're doing it as well. This is the US government we're talking about and as far as they're concerned, two words can and have been used to, justify some of the most terrible actions that the world has ever seen.

Those words are "National Security", a term used so often by the US government to justify its own bad behaviour that this term has, for the most part, lost all meaning.