July 6, 2022

TikTok Espionage and Babylon Bee Ban

The Chinese are serious about accessing American data. No political satire allowed.

TikTok has long been a national security concern for those of us paying attention. During the last administration, President Donald Trump fought to have the app banned altogether. Why? Because the Chinese company that runs the popular app has unprecedented access to user data here in the States.

Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr even sent a letter to Apple and Google, calling on the companies to ban TikTok from their online stores. The Chinese government has been able to access the locations of underage users and store information on them; exploit loopholes in iPhone security to access usernames and passwords as well as crypto currencies and wallets; and store biometric data. Beijing knows what users look like, and TikTok’s algorithms are set to promote videos and behavior that are harmful to the American public.

There have been several leaked conversations within TikTok that show the organization’s Chinese counterparts accessing nonpublic user information. There are also rumors that there is a “master admin” who “has access to everything.”

This is despite assurances to the U.S. government that this is not the case. Nine U.S. senators directly asked TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew if the rumors were true. The CEO wrote a letter with this response: “Employees outside the U.S., including China-based employees, can have access to TikTok U.S. user data subject to a series of robust cybersecurity controls and authorization approval protocols overseen by our U.S.-based security team. In addition, TikTok has an internal data classification system and approval process in place that assigns levels of address based on the data’s classification and requires approvals for access to U.S. user data. The level of approval required is based on the sensitivity of the data according to the classification system.”

Naturally, Senator Marsha Blackburn has demanded that the company testify before Congress to make the American people aware of just how dangerous using the app is. In a statement, Blackburn said: “TikTok’s response confirms that our fears regarding [Chinese Communist Party] influence within the company are well-founded. They should have come clean from the start but instead tried to shroud their work in secrecy. Americans need to know that if they are on TikTok, Communist China has their information. TikTok needs to come back and testify before Congress.”

The long-term national security implications are bad, but the cultural manipulation is dangerous in the here and now. The latest casualty in the social media censorship wars is TikTok’s permanent banning of The Babylon Bee. The satirical publication has likewise been banned from other social media platforms for its staunch refusal to bow to the woke mob. TikTok gave no reason for the ban, but one can only assume that either the company’s wokesters or its Chinese counterparts were offended by a post. One thing is for certain: The lack of humor is one thing the Chinese Communist Party and American leftists have in common.

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