GOP Officers Elevate Alarm Over US Guardsman in TikTok Advert

A video commercial launched by TikTok that includes an Air Nationwide Guardsman has drawn considerations amongst two Republican lawmakers, who say it seems to be a “de facto” endorsement of the U.S. navy of the Chinese language-owned video app amid heightened safety considerations.

“Chinese language intelligence and safety companies use TikTok to surveil, exploit, and manipulate the American folks,” Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) wrote in a letter (pdf) addressed to Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the Nationwide Guard Bureau.

The lawmakers expressed concern over the participation of Jon Lynch, an Air Nationwide Guard member primarily based in New Hampshire, within the TikTok advert launched final month.

“My identify is Jon Lynch, and I’m a member of the Nationwide Guard. I exploit my TikTok channel to unfold useful and helpful info to learn navy members and their households,” Lynch mentioned in the beginning of the quick video.

The Nationwide Guard member states the platform permits him to “attain the navy group.”

“TikTok permits me to provide different navy members and different households these experiences to understand this life that they’re in,” Lynch mentioned.

“The video seems to function a de facto Nationwide Guard endorsement of TikTok’s platform,” Stefanik and Hawley mentioned within the letter dated April 28, which was first reported by Politico. “That is extraordinarily regarding given the recognized threats TikTok poses to Individuals—particularly in order TikTok is now banned on all U.S. authorities units.”

In response, Lt. Col. Greg Heilshorn, director of public affairs on the New Hampshire Nationwide Guard, said Lynch has been operating his TikTok channel “on his personal time along with his personal tools.”

“He has labored with our public affairs workplace to make sure he’s in accordance with navy coverage,” Heilshorn mentioned in an announcement to The Epoch Instances.

TikTok was based and owned by ByteDance, a Beijing-based tech large. The ties have raised bipartisan considerations in Congress, particularly after leaked recordings revealed that ByteDance engineers in China had repeatedly accessed the platform’s U.S. information as of January 2022.

The 2 lawmakers famous the short-video platform was beholden to China’s intelligence regulation, which compels “any group or citizen” to “assist, help, and cooperate” with safety and intelligence businesses when requested by Beijing.

Whereas TikTok’s Chief Working Officer Vanessa Pappas testified to senators in September 2022 that TikTok has “strict controls by way of who and the way our information is accessed” and vowed that “not at all would we give that information to China,” the corporate’s govt declined to make a dedication that the app would lower off flows of Individuals’ information to China.

Epoch Times Photo
A lady walks previous the headquarters of ByteDance, the mother or father firm of video sharing app TikTok, in Beijing, China, on Sept. 16, 2020. (Greg Baker/AFP through Getty Pictures)

Throughout a Senate Choose Committee on Intelligence listening to on March 8, FBI Director Christopher Wray reaffirmed that TikTok poses nationwide safety and privateness considerations and might be used as a device by the Chinese language Communist Occasion (CCP) to control the pondering of thousands and thousands of Individuals.

“The Nationwide Guard performs an integral function in finishing up the Nationwide Protection Technique, which appropriately identifies China as our most consequential strategic competitor,” Stefanik and Hawley mentioned within the letter.

“Not solely does TikTok play a number one function in manipulating Americans’ perceptions of China usually, however affect operations like this might immediately undermine the Nationwide Guard’s capability to mobilize in disaster or battle.

“Moreover, TikTok’s information assortment may pose threats to the operational safety of Nationwide Guard operations,” they wrote, noting that TikTok and the CCP “proceed to actively undermine American pursuits.”

The lawmakers offered Hokanson with a listing of questions concerning TikTok, setting a deadline of Might 23.

“It’s due to this fact crucial that the Nationwide Guard Bureau (NGB) make clear its insurance policies on official and unofficial use of TikTok to each Service members and the American folks,” the letter mentioned.

NGB’s spokesperson didn’t touch upon Might 1, saying they are going to “reply on to the authors of the letter.”

Eva Fu contributed to this report.

Originally posted 2023-05-02 14:33:39.