Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines is warning parents about risks to their children’s data privacy on the social media platform TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance.
In an interview with NBC’s Andrea Mitchell at the Reagan National Defense Forum, Haines said it is “extraordinary” how adept the Chinese government is at “collecting foreign data.”
“And their capacity to then turn around and use it, to target audiences for information campaigns but also to have it for the future to use it for a variety of means,” she said.
When Mitchell asked if parents should be worried, Haines responded, “I think you should be.”
TikTok is one of the most popular social media platforms in the U.S., with tens of millions of users.
The video-sharing app is particularly popular among younger generations, fueling concerns about data collection from Beijing.
Last month, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) member Brendan Carr called for TikTok to be banned, saying it was impossible to say with confidence that personal data was not ending up in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.
Carr was appointed to the FCC by former President Trump, who threatened to ban the app in 2020 if ByteDance didn’t sell it to an American company.
The Biden administration is in talks with TikTok to address national security concerns without a complete restructure, according to The New York Times.
Lawmakers have also repeatedly raised concerns about TikTok. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, called the platform an “enormous threat” last month.
Despite the warnings, TikTok continues to be one of the most downloaded apps across the world.
Haines told NBC that it was “extraordinary how open we are as a society in the amount of information we put into public venues that can be accessed.”