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U.S. Senate intelligence leaders ask FTC chair to investigate TikTok

Kerry Flynn
Jul 6, 2022
Illustration of the TikTok logo made from binary code.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee leaders sent a letter to FTC chair Lina Khan on Tuesday with concerns about TikTok's data practices, namely Chinese access to U.S. data.

Why it matters: This is the latest in a series of alarms rung in Washington, D.C., that could prompt an FTC investigation.

Details: The letter, signed by Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), noted the recent BuzzFeed News investigation that seemed to contradict TikTok's testimony to the committee last year.

  • "While TikTok has suggested that migrating to U.S.-based storage from a U.S. cloud service provider alleviates any risk of unauthorized access, these latest revelations raise concerns about the reliability of TikTok representations," the letter reads.
  • "In light of repeated misrepresentations by TikTok concerning its data security, data processing, and corporate governance practices, we urge you to act promptly on this matter," it continues.
  • FTC spokesperson Juliana Gruenwald Henderson confirmed in an email to Axios that the agency received the letter but had no additional comment.

Catch up quick: This letter follows Republican FCC commissioner Brendan Carr requesting Apple and Alphabet remove TikTok from their app stores over similar concerns last month.

  • Last month, nine Republican senators also sent a letter to TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew about these matters. TikTok replied to the lawmakers in an eight-page letter about its plans to safeguard U.S. data.

Of note: The FTC has taken action against TikTok previously. In 2019, TikTok agreed to a $5.7 million settlement with the FTC for collecting children's personal data.

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