China has stolen more personal and business data from Americans than all other nations combined, FBI Director Christopher Wray testified Tuesday.
Wray made the comments during a hearing with the House Homeland Security Committee in Washington. Wray says China has an expansive hacking program targeting U.S. citizens, and went on to say that Chinese apps like TikTok represent significant data threats.
“China’s vast hacking program is the world’s largest, and they have stolen more Americans’ personal and business data than every other nation combined,” Wray told lawmakers.
Wray later explained the dangers posed by TikTok, a massively popular video sharing app owned by Chinese tech giant ByteDance.
“[Dangers] include the possibility that the Chinese government could use it to control data collection on millions of users or control the recommendation algorithm, which could be used for influence operations if they so chose or to control software on millions of devices, which gives the opportunity to potentially tactically compromised personal devices,” Wray said.
Wray’s statement comes just weeks after FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr called for the U.S. to outright ban TikTok, arguing efforts to separate its U.S.-based branch from its headquarters in China were pointless.
“I don’t believe there is a path forward for anything other than a ban,” he told Axios at the time, adding that there isn’t “a world in which you could come up with sufficient protection on the data that you could have sufficient confidence that it’s not finding its way back into the hands of the CCP.”
TikTok pushed back on Carr in a statement to FOX Business, arguing that the commissioner has no role in discussions with the CFIUS. The FCC has no authority to regulate TikTok, which is why Carr and others critical of Chinese apps have urged other federal agencies and Congress to take action.
“Commissioner Carr has no role in the confidential discussions with the U.S. government related to TikTok and appears to be expressing views independent of his role as an FCC commissioner,” TikTok responded. “We are confident that we are on a path to reaching an agreement with the U.S. Government that will satisfy all reasonable national security concerns.”
While TikTok representatives have insisted that users’ data are safe, executives for the company have admitted under oath that the data is accessible from China.
That access is used frequently as well, as was revealed in an extensive report from BuzzFeed earlier this year. The outlet obtained audio from more than 80 internal meetings at TikTok, showing that U.S. employees were not permitted to access user data and instead relied on Chinese employees to do so.