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(Reuters) — The head of the U.S. National Security Agency’s cybersecurity directorate on Monday said TikTok represents a “strategic issue” rather than an immediate “tactical” threat to the United States.
Speaking at a policy conference in Northern California, Rob Joyce, director of cybersecurity for the spy agency, reiterated the agency’s earlier position that the Chinese-owned social networking app is akin to a “loaded gun” that the Chinese government could use to influence what information Americans see.
“Why would you bring the Trojan horse inside the fortress?” Mr. Joyce said at the conference.
Mr. Joyce said China could use its influence on TikTok to suppress information that might make the nation look bad to Americans.
His remarks echo earlier warnings by Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray and National Security Agency Director Paul Nakasone, who told lawmakers that TikTok could be used to carry out sweeping influence campaigns.
U.S. President Joe Biden has signaled his support for legislation introduced by a dozen Senators that would give him the power to ban TikTok and other foreign technologies if they pose a national security risk.
Last week, members of the U.S. House of Representatives grilled TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew about the app’s data-handling practices, reflecting a growing bipartisan concern over the app’s 150 million users in the U.S. During his testimony, Mr. Chew repeatedly denied the app shares data or has connections with the Chinese Communist Party.