• Sun. Jun 4th, 2023

NSA cybersecurity director Rob Joyce warns that TikTok is a ‘loaded gun’ for China


Apr 11, 2023


The National Security Agency warned on Tuesday that TikTok gives China a loaded gun and Americans need to beware.

NSA Cybersecurity Director Rob Joyce said the dangers with the China-founded app involve the communist country’s track record of operating businesses and exploiting the Western world.

“This is not about ‘show me the smoking gun,’ this is the adversary has a loaded gun,” Mr. Joyce said at a Center for Strategic and International Studies event. “Why would you stand in front of that? You’ve given them the platform and the capability to do harm.”

Mr. Joyce is not the first NSA official to express alarm about the platform. Army Gen. Paul Nakasone, the NSA director, told House Armed Services Committee lawmakers last month that TikTok poses a data security problem for the American public.

Gen. Nakasone told lawmakers that TikTok represents a “platform for information operations, a platform for surveillance, and a concern we have with regards to who controls that data.”

NSA officials have stopped short of calling for lawmakers to enact a nationwide ban.

SEE ALSO: Military expert warns China is waging low-level war on America

Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Jen Easterly told lawmakers in March that she would support a nationwide ban of TikTok, but was not sure such a blanket restriction could be implemented.

Congress is considering several proposals to restrict TikTok’s operations in the U.S., including multiple bills designed to empower President Biden to pursue a nationwide ban of the platform.

American policymakers are concerned that China’s policies of civil-military fusion that force businesses to cooperate with the communist government make Americans’ data on TikTok vulnerable to the Chinese government via the app’s China-founded parent company, ByteDance.

Congress passed legislation removing TikTok from federal government devices and Mr. Biden signed the restrictions into law in December. His administration has maintained a national security review of TikTok initiated under the Trump administration and reached no formal final conclusion.

TikTok has worked to avoid a nationwide ban, including by making an effort to restructure its business in the U.S. and wall off Americans’ data from China in a plan it calls Project Texas.

Mr. Joyce appeared unpersuaded on Tuesday and compared TikTok to a Trojan Horse that should not be allowed inside the castle.

SEE ALSO: NSA director tells Congress he’s worried about TikTok: ‘A platform for surveillance’

“Do I think if I loaded TikTok on my phone they’re going to get to all the other sensitive things through that TikTok app tomorrow? Probably not,” Mr. Joyce said on Tuesday. “The cost of exposing TikTok in that way to exploit one or a small set of users probably isn’t worth it. But all the data, the metadata, that they do collect that goes back to big servers accessible to China — that’s a problem.”

TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


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