Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Josh Hawley. Photo: "Axios on HBO"

Sen. Josh Hawley says Apple and TikTok may be threatening U.S. national security through their Chinese operations and connections.

  • In an exclusive interview with "Axios on HBO," the Missouri Republican called out Apple for choosing Chinese profits over American values. He also called on TikTok, owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, to testify under oath that it does not share American data with China's Communist Party.

Why it matters: On Tuesday, Hawley will chair a hearing highlighting the compromises that, he argues, U.S. tech companies make to do business in China. The hearing comes amid increasing tensions over trade and technology transfers between the U.S. and China.

  • Hawley invited Apple and TikTok executives to testify at Tuesday's hearing, called “How Corporations and Big Tech Leave Our Data Exposed to Criminals, China, and Other Bad Actors.”
  • The companies declined to appear, as of Sunday. The subcommittee will have open chairs for them during the hearing.

Hawley said he has two primary concerns:

  1. American tech companies making deals with China's government to do business there.
  2. China-based tech companies that are growing rapidly in America and collecting U.S. consumer data in the process.

"[As] these Big Tech companies try to get into the Chinese market, the compromises that they have to make with the Communist Chinese Party — who, let's not forget, partner with or control every industry of any size in China — what does that do to American security?" Hawley told "Axios on HBO."

The big picture: Hawley, who chairs the Senate Judiciary crime and terrorism subcommittee, is one of the most vocal Republican critics of Silicon Valley in Congress.

  • Lawmakers are already skeptical of TikTok's ties to China. Last week, Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) asked for a national security review of the platform.
  • On Friday, Reuters reported the U.S. government has opened a national security investigation into TikTok owner's acquisition of social media app Musical.ly two years ago.

The other side: TikTok, which is very popular among teenagers, has said all U.S. user data is stored in the U.S., with a backup server in Singapore. That doesn't ease Hawley's concerns.

  • "I would say that doesn't necessarily mean that the communist government doesn't have access to the data," he said. "I don't know that it matters where the data is stored for that kind of a company. I think you've got to assume that there is a backdoor way into that data."
  • He added that TikTok is a company people don't know much about. "Maybe it's growing in popularity, but what exactly does that company do? What's happening to our data when we use the app? Americans deserve answers."

A TikTok spokesperson said in a statement provided to Axios that the company appreciates the invitation to the hearing. "Unfortunately, on short notice, we were unable to provide a witness who would be able to contribute to a substantive discussion."

  • "We remain committed to working productively with Congress as it looks at how to secure the data of American users, protect their privacy, promote free expression, ensure competition and choice among internet platforms, and preserve U.S. national security interests," the spokesperson continued.

Apple, for its part, has said it uses encryption across devices and servers in all countries and insists there are no backdoors into data centers or systems. When asked about these security practices, Hawley wasn't comforted.

  • "My question is, are they storing encryption keys in China? The answer to that is yes. Then what kind of data are they storing in China? Whose data? Any American data? What about people who have Chinese relatives or business partners or other ventures, so they're communicating with people in China? Does that expose American users to potential surveillance by the Chinese state?"

Apple declined to comment on this story. However, it previously said that Apple — not its Chinese partner — retains control over encryption keys to iCloud data stored there.

Hawley said Silicon Valley needs to make a stand against China.

  • "They're willing to trade our basic democratic values and the privacy and security of Americans in order to make a buck in China and to get the favor of the Beijing government."

The bottom line: Hawley said his concern is that "the Communist Party could be scooping up" troves of data from the U.S. teenagers using TikTok and Apple products and apps.

"Think about what it will mean in 20 years when there's that much more data on them. Think about the profiles that American companies, [and] Chinese companies connected to the Communist Party, could build on people who are today just in their teens. I mean, these are the things that as a parent with two small children at home, I worry about every day."
— Josh Hawley

Go deeper:

Go deeper

House cancels Thursday session as FBI, Homeland Security warn of threat to Capitol

Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security predict violent domestic extremists attacks will increase in 2021, according to a report reviewed by Axios.

Driving the news: The joint report says an unidentified group of extremists discussed plans to take control of the Capitol and "remove Democratic lawmakers" on or about March 4. The House canceled its plans for Thursday votes as word of the possible threats spread.

40 mins ago - World

Pope Francis set to make first papal visit to Iraq amid possible turmoil

Data: Vatican News; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Pope Francis is forging ahead with the first papal trip to Iraq despite new coronavirus outbreaks and fears of instability.

The big picture: The March 5–8 visit is intended to reassure Christians in Iraq who were violently persecuted under the Islamic State. Francis also hopes to further ties with Shiite Muslims, AP notes.

"Neanderthal thinking": Biden slams states lifting mask mandates

States that are relaxing coronavirus restrictions are making "a big mistake," President Biden told reporters on Wednesday, adding: "The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking."

Driving the news: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said Wednesday he will end all coronavirus restrictions via executive order, although some businesses are continuing to ask patrons to wear face masks. Mississippi is lifting its mask mandate for all counties Wednesday, per Gov. Tate Reeves (R).