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New Delhi: Several Republican members of the US Congress Wednesday wrote to President Donald Trump urging him to follow India’s footsteps and ban Chinese social media applications such as TikTok in order to protect America’s privacy and national security.

Signed by 25 US Congress members, the letter asked the US President to take strong action to stop the Chinese Communist Party’s “sophisticated espionage campaign” by restricting Chinese social media applications in the country.

“In June, India took an extraordinary step of banning Chinese affiliated-apps, including TikTok, due to national security concerns. CCP’s systemic campaign to collect and illicitly transmit user data to Chinese govt is not unique to Indian consumers,” the letter stated.

The Congress members said Chinese authorities enjoy “unrestricted access” to US consumer and government database. The letter quotes TikTok’s US privacy policy as “evidence” to point out that it has been upfront about the “vast quantity of user data it collects and shares with the CCP”.

The list of signatories led by Colorado representative Ken Buck included Jim Banks, Andy Biggs, Ted Budd, Rick Crawford, Jeff Duncan, Neal P Dunn, Matt Gaetz, Bob Gibbs, Louie Gohmert, Paul A. Gosar, Michael Guest, Jody Hice, Steve King, Doug LaMalfa, Doug Lamborn, Tom McClintock, Ralph Norman, Scott Perry, Tom Rice, Chip Roy, Ross Spano, W. Gregory Steube, Jackie Walorski and Ted S. Yoho.

 

“US shouldn’t trust TikTok or other Chinese-affiliated social media websites/apps to protect Americans’ data, privacy or security. We urge you to take strong action to stop CCP’s sophisticated espionage campaign against our country and protect our national security,” they said in the letter.

Last month, India banned 59 Chinese apps, including TikTok, SHAREiT and WeChat terming them “prejudicial” to national security.


Also read: US is alarmed by the huge amount of user data TikTok is collecting in America


TikTok censorship ‘concerning’

In the letter, the 25 Republicans said TikTok’s censorship of user content to advance CCP’s foreign policy was “deeply concerning”, and cited that “leaked documents” show detailed instructions to ban specific content.

“…TikTok’s censorship of user content to advance the CCP’s foreign policy aims is deeply concerning. Leaked documents detail instructions to ban videos on the app that mention Tiananmen Square, Tibetan independence, or banned religious groups.”

The US Congress also cited an Australian Strategic Policy Institute report that found that ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, works “closely” with the Chinese government to enable human rights abuse in the country against Uighur Muslims by “by disseminating the CCP’s state propaganda”.

“ByteDance is also required under Chinese law to provide seats on the company’s board of directors to CCP officials, further cementing the authoritarian government’s role in setting these policies,” the letter added.

Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US government was considering a ban on TikTok and other Chinese social media apps.

On Wednesday, Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows hinted that the move could come in weeks.

Meanwhile, the US Senate will also vote on a bill introduced by Republican Senator Josh Hawley, which will effectively ban federal employees from using the popular video-sharing app on government devices.


Also read: Google, Facebook, Twitter stop sharing user data with Hong Kong govt


 

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