US spy chief highlights TikTok potential threat

Social media app TikTok is an issue of strategic concern to the US, according to the head of the National Security Agency’s cybersecurity directorate.

Speaking at a policy conference in Northern California this week, Rob Joyce, director of cybersecurity for the agency, reiterated an earlier position that the Chinese-owned social networking app is akin to a “loaded gun” that the Chinese government could use to influence what information Americans see.

“Why would you bring the Trojan horse inside the fortress?” Joyce said at the conference, adding that China could use its influence on TikTok to suppress information that might put the nation in a bad light.

His remarks echo earlier warnings by Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray and National Security Agency Director Paul Nakasone, who told US lawmakers that TikTok could be used to carry out sweeping influence campaigns.

US President Joe Biden has signalled his support for legislation introduced by a dozen Senators that would give him the power to ban TikTok and other foreign technologies if they pose a national security risk.

Last week, members of the US House of Representatives questioned TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew about the app’s data-handling practices, reflecting a growing concern over the app’s 150 million users in the US.

 During his testimony, Chew repeatedly denied the app shares data or has connections with the Chinese Communist Party.