Chinese spy balloon escalates rage against TikTok and the CCP

The discovery of a Chinese surveillance balloon flying over the United States has reignited attacks on the popular social media app TikTok, which critics say could pose a national security threat due to its links to the Communist Party. Chinese (CCP).

The high-altitude balloon was spotted hovering over Montana on Wednesday and Thursday, and a senior administration official said Newsweek that President Joe Biden chose not to shoot down the object “due to the risk to the safety and security of those on the ground.”

The official also noted that similar activity had been reported in the United States in the past, including before Biden took office, and said “this balloon has limited value from a collection standpoint. of information”.

Red flags fly near the Chinese national emblem in front of the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. In the insert, the logo of the TikTok application is displayed. The discovery of a Chinese surveillance balloon hovering in US airspace on Thursday has rekindled fears that TikTok could pose a security threat.
Feng Li/Getty; Drew Angerer/Getty

The balloon’s discovery has revived critics of TikTok who say the video-sharing app should be banned in the United States for its alleged ability to collect data for Chinese intelligence. In a statement posted on Twitter, the Governor of Montana Greg Gianforte cited both the “spy balloon” and the CCP “spying on Americans through TikTok” as reasons he was “deeply disturbed by the steady stream of developments alarming our national security.”

Other Twitter users have claimed that TikTok poses a much bigger threat to US intelligence than the spy balloon. Conservative political commentator Tim Young tweeted: “Sooo…everyone is freaking out about a Chinese spy balloon…when over 80 million people in the US have TikTok on their phones…got it.”

Some Republican lawmakers also used the news of the spy balloon to reintroduce legislation in their respective states that would ban the use of TikTok on all government-issued devices, a measure that 32 states have already passed, CNN reported.

Florida State Rep. Carolina Amesty, who on Tuesday introduced a bill to ban TikTok on state-owned devices, tweeted Thursday night: “The fact that a Chinese spy balloon is hovering over- above our skies underscores the seriousness of the national security threat facing our country. .”

“This is precisely why I have filed a bill to ban TikTok, which is a front of the Chinese Communist Party, from devices in the state of Florida,” Amesty added in its post.

Missouri State Senator Caleb Rowden also lobbied for a bill he introduced in his state’s House last week that would ban the use of social media on state-owned devices from employers who are “headquartered” or are “indirectly controlled by” the CCP, Islamic Republic of Iran, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or Russian Federation.

“China and the CCP are not our friends,” Rowden wrote on Twitter. “They do not share the values ​​of freedom and economic freedom that make America great. They are a strategic competitor willing to use any means necessary to expand and expand their power.”

Ahead of news of the spy balloon Thursday night, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat, also called on Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores, citing national security concerns, CNN reported.

TikTok, which has nearly 136.5 million US users in April, is not directly owned or affiliated with the CCP. But some lawmakers have speculated that the app could pose a security threat due to a national intelligence law passed in China in 2017, which states that any company is required to assist the government in the ” intelligence work.

TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, is based in Beijing, but the social app’s biggest office is in Los Angeles, California. Despite the apparent separation between the two headquarters, however, former TikTok employees have previously told CNBC that ByteDance is heavily involved in day-to-day operations.

A TikTok spokesperson said Newsweek in December that the company believes recent bans on state-issued devices “are largely fueled by misinformation about our society.”

Newsweek contacted TikTok for comment.


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