TikTok Problem Can Be Addressed in These Two Ways, Senator Booker Says

Senator Cory Booker, a New Jersey Democrat, said there are two ways the United States can tackle security concerns surrounding the Chinese-owned social media platform TikTok.

Both Republicans and Democrats in Congress have raised concerns about TikTok, and the possibility that China's government could access users' data and utilize the platform to manipulate or promote propaganda. While speaking with CBS News' Face the Nation, Booker was asked if espionage is something Americans will just have to live with? Booker responded, "No, absolutely not."

"There's two ways to approach this," Booker said, speaking about the social media app TikTok. "One, the proactive step of banning it on government devices is something that the United States federal government is doing, states, and even localities are doing."

"But the other way to go about this is going directly to the company. They are now working with U.S. intelligence folks to try to make sure that the proper precautions are taken so the Chinese cannot get access and use it for spying," Booker continued.

The New Jersey senator concluded saying, "This is something we have to take seriously."

Meanwhile, Democratic and Republican leaders have already taken the step to ban the popular social media app from government devices, citing security concerns.

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster and Texas Governor Greg Abbott, both Republicans, issued directives banning the use of TikTok on state-owned devices. Democratic Governor Laura Kelly of Kansas also echoed those concerns and banned TikTok on state-owned devices.

"Protecting our State's critical cyber infrastructure from foreign and domestic threats is key to ensuring the health, safety, and well-being of our citizens and businesses," McMaster wrote in a letter. "Federal law enforcement and national security officials have warned that TikTok poses a clear and present danger to its users, and a growing bi-partisan coalition in Congress is pushing to ban access to TikTok in the United States."

Concerns over TikTok's presence in the U.S. has been an issue on Capitol Hill as politicians have begun to ramp up scrutiny of how the app collects its users' data.

In Abbott's letter addressing TikTok the Texas governor said "while TikTok has claimed that it stores U.S. data within the U.S., the company admitted in a letter to Congress that China-based employees can have access to U.S. data." This contradicts claims made by TikTok executives in a congressional oversight hearing this year.

Political analyst Craig Agranoff told Newsweek on Sunday, "TikTok as a foreign social network can keep data on American users and poses a threat. This data could be vulnerable to hacking, government, surveillance or misuse by the social network itself. "

"Additionally, foreign laws and regulations may not provide the same level of privacy protection for American users as domestic laws do. It's important for users to be aware of the risks and to consider the privacy policies and practices of any social app they use," Agranoff said.

Sen. Cory Booker
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) speaks during a news conference with Democratic lawmakers about the Biden administrations border politics, outside the U.S. Capitol on January 26, 2023 in Washington, DC. Drew Angerer/Getty

The analyst continued, "it's difficult to predict the future, but there are certainly tensions between the United States and China that could potentially escalate into a Cold-War like situation. The relationship between the two countries has become increasingly strained in recent years due to issues such as trade disputes, technological competition, human rights concerns, disagreements over global governance and let's not quickly forget the weather balloon."

"Whether or not the tensions will lead to a full-blown Cold War will depend on a variety of factors, including the actions and decisions of both countries' leaders and the global community as a whole," he said.