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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

‘Squad’ Rep. Jamaal Bowman Shills on Behalf of TikTok, Despite Evidence of Espionage

'I haven't seen any hard evidence that TikTok is committing some form of espionage. What I've heard is speculation. And what I've heard is innuendo...'

(Corine GattiHeadline USA) Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., declared he doesn’t consider the Chinese-owned video app TikTok a threat to America’s security, even though the FBI has warned about—and the company itself has admitted to—spying on American users, many of whom are vulnerable teenagers.

“I haven’t seen any hard evidence that TikTok is committing some form of espionage,” he said in a phone interview with NBC News on Monday. “What I’ve heard is speculation, and what I’ve heard is innuendo.”

TikTok is accused of harvesting private user data to benefit the Chinese Communist Party—and evidence of a potentially dubious relationship between the two is stacking up.

But Bowman, whether for political or financial reasons, has rushed to its defense.

During a press conference Tuesday outside of Capitol Hill, the second-generation “Squad” member pressed lawmakers to avoid expressing “our xenophobia when it comes to TikTok” and to stop the “fearmongering.”

He also claimed that Republicans opposed the company simply because they had no “swag.”

The app’s Beijing-based parent company, ByteDance Ltd., has been under increasing scrutiny since the Trump administration tried to stop its ownership of TikTok.

According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, the Canadian-based cybersecurity company Feroot Security found at least 27 state-government websites have web-tracking code placed by ByteDance.

The House and the Senate are looking to ban the social media app, and President Joe Biden signed a bipartisan bill to ban the app on government devices last year. 

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew was expected to appear before Congress on Thursday to address longstanding concerns that the app may be collecting information to spy on Americans.

Nonetheless, Bowman remained adamant that the primary goal of the platform was to give creators the ability to express their views.

“There are many apps on our phones right now that are Chinese apps,” rationalized the 46-year-old lawmaker, who has around 159,700 followers on TikTok. “And so the idea that, ‘Oh, TikTok is the boogeyman’—it’s just part of a political fearmongering that’s happening.”

Bowman added that privacy concerns should extend beyond the TikTok platform.

“We need conversation and regulation about all social media platforms because of the issue of data mining, data sharing,” he said in his interview with NBC News.

“And why do we want to take that away?” he continued. “Why do we need to ban a platform that 150 million Americans now use?”

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