Members Of Congress Warned About Security Risks From Chinese-Owned TikTok In New Memo

Politico has just obtained a 2-page memo to Capital Hill staffers about the dangerous of TikTok.

Now, the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) of the House of Representatives is warning members of Congress about using the app over potential security risks.

“TikTok is a Chinese-owned company, and any use of this platform should be done with that in mind,” the memo read.

To justify this warning, the office went on to say:

The ‘TikTok’ mobile application has been deemed by the CAO Office of CyberSecurity to be a high-risk to users due to its lack of transparency in how it protects customer data, its requirement of excessive permissions, and the potential security risks involved with its use.

Additionally, we believe the user base should be aware that this application is known to store users’ Data Location, Photos, and other Personally Identifiable Information (PII) in servers located in China and potentially mined for commercial and private purposes.

Per the memo, many of these security warnings stem from the app’s ability to collect information “in the background” from devices it is installed on. Even when TikTok is not being used.

This gathered information includes location data, IP address, metadata from uploads, and cookies, in addition to plenty of others. Perhaps most shockingly, even the user’s keystroke patterns and rhythms.

“TikTok ‘may collect biometric identifiers and biometric information as defined under US laws,’ including ‘faceprints’ and ‘voiceprints,’ from videos users upload to their platform,” the memo added.

Some of the specific security concerns the CAO cited included; device mapping, device locations being checked every hour, ongoing access to calendars, TikTok routinely asking for access to contacts until given, external storage requests, and images.

“To reiterate, we do not recommend the download or use of this application due to these security and privacy concerns,” the memo concluded.

At the bottom of the memo is a link to a New York Times piece about why US military services have banned the use of TikTok from government devices.

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