US Spy Agency Cyber Chief Warns TikTok Is China’s ‘Trojan Horse’

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(Bloomberg) -- Rob Joyce, the head of the US National Security Agency’s cybersecurity arm, said popular video-sharing app TikTok is China’s “Trojan horse” and poses a long-term, strategic cybersecurity concern.

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Joyce said it was critical that the US government monitor TikTok’s Chinese parent ByteDance Ltd. to avoid a security incident “five, 10 or 20” years down the line, as opposed to an imminent, “tactical” threat.

“Why would you bring the Trojan horse inside the fortress?” Joyce said Monday at the Silverado Accelerator Conference in Napa, California. “Why would you bring that capability into the US when the Chinese could manipulate the data we see to either include the things they want to present to our population — divisive material — or remove the things that paint them in a bad light, which they would not like to be exposed to the American people?”

Politicians and cybersecurity experts have repeatedly raised concerns that TikTok’s parent company has too much insight into its 150 million monthly US users, and allege that steps the app has taken to separate data is not enough to keep it from a prying Beijing government.

TikTok Chief Executive Officer Shou Chew faced a grilling during a US House committee hearing last week as he tried to protect his company from a possible ban or forced sale over concerns the app might pose a security concern.

During last week’s hearing, Chew said TikTok posed no greater risk than social media giants like Google’s YouTube and Meta Platform Inc.’s Instagram, claiming his company has put more safeguards in place than any of its Western competitors because of long-standing suspicions.

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