Photo Credit: Mark Warner / CC by 2.0
The United States still has concerns about privacy on TikTok with issued remaining ‘unresolved,’ according to U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.
“We do have concerns around the potential issues with privacy and social media,” Yellen told CNBC in an interview on Monday. “This is a matter that has not been resolved.” Yellen adds that she cannot discuss TikTok specifically, but that it “wasn’t an explicit matter of discussion” between President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping upon meeting last week. Yellen also discussed Chinese investment in the United States with her counterpart, including discussions on involving the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).
Earlier this year, two U.S. Senators urged CFIUS to wrap up its investigation into the national security concerns presented by TikTok. Lawmakers Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) sent the letter to Janet Yellen seeking to “swiftly conclude [the panel’s] investigation and impose strict structural restrictions between TikTok’s American operations and its Chinese parent company, Bytedance, including potentially separating the two companies.”
In that letter, lawmakers highlighted instances in which TikTok employees spied on American journalists reporting on the social media network. Meanwhile, internal leaked audio showed that ByteDance employees did have access to U.S. user data—despite staunch denials of access. ByteDance fired four employees who it said improperly accessed data, but maintains that U.S. data is not stored in China.
The CFIUS probe into TikTok stems from the 2017 acquisition of Musical.ly by ByteDance, but has gone nowhere after dragging on for years. “Monitoring and hosting requirements will never address the distrust earned from ByteDance’s past conduct,” lawmakers warned in their letter.
“At minimum, CFIUS should ensure that executive decision making about the platform is based in the United States and fully free of coercive influence from Beijing.”