In an interview with Fox News host Maria Bartiromo on Sunday, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro warned that kids who use the popular Chinese app TikTok are literally giving the Communist Party a clear window into their data and their very lives.
Over the past month, Australia and India have taken hardline measures against Chinese apps like TikTok, and the rhetoric from the Trump administration suggests that the U.S. may soon follow suit. Until the president makes it official, however, White House figures like Navarro are advising Americans to be very cautious about using these programs.
“What the American people have to understand is, all the data that goes into those mobile apps that kids have so much fun with and seem so convenient, it goes right to servers in China, right to the Chinese military, the Chinese Communist Party, and the agencies which want to steal our intellectual property,” Navarro said. “Those apps can be used to steal personal and financial information for blackmail and extortion. They can be used to steal business intellectual property and proprietary secrets.”
Navarro said that wasn’t the extent of the dangers of these apps. In addition to surveilling Americans, apps like TikTok can also be used for “information warfare.” For instance, he argued, the Chinese can easily filter information to make sure that users only see pro-Biden content until the election.
He said that the U.S. was not fooled by claims that TikTok is unrelated to the Chinese government, either – a gambit they already tried with phone maker Huawei.
“They’re trying that game with TikTok,” he noted. “Not gonna work.”
Earlier this year, Republican Sens. Rick Scott and Josh Hawley partnered on a bill that would ban federal employees from putting TikTok on their government-issued devices, citing national security issues.
“TikTok is owned by a Chinese company that includes Chinese Communist Party members on its board, and it is required by law to share user data with Beijing,” Hawley said in March. “The company even admitted it collects user data while their app is running in the background – including the messages people send, pictures they share, their keystrokes and location data, you name it. As many of our federal agencies have already recognized, TikTok is a major security risk to the United States, and it has no place on government devices.”