EXCLUSIVE: TikTok confirms Chinese engineers write app’s source code: Revelation sparks top Republican’s concerns over claims firm allows Beijing to gain ‘back door access’ to Americans’ data
- TikTok says it has software engineers in the ‘United States and China’
- Chairman Green told DailyMail.com that based on the company’s response, the ‘threat of TikTok’ has never been more clear
- ‘I was told that it is possible CCP-connected engineers could have a role in writing the app’s source code,’ he says
TikTok confirmed that its app source code is written by Chinese engineers, which a top House Republican says is alarming because it puts Americans’ data directly in ‘danger’ due to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) getting ‘back door’ access to private information.
In an initial letter to CEO Shou Zi Chew on April 10, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mark Green, R-Tenn., outlined concerns regarding connections between ByteDance – TikTok’s parent company – and the Chinese government.
He also demanded answers on whether anyone in China has access to developing the app’s source code and if the company could guarantee that there are no ‘back door’ entry points for bad actors to get data.
The popular social media company sent a response letter obtained by DailyMail.com to Green on May 8, responding to questions from the Republican.
TikTok Vice President of Public Policy Michael Beckerman confirmed that TikTok has ‘software engineers throughout the world,’ including in the ‘United States and China.’
TikTok Vice President of Public Policy Michael Beckerman replied to the concerns by Green in a letter on May 8 obtained by DailyMail.com
He noted that using a ‘global engineering workforce to write software code is not unusual,’ continuing to say it is the ‘norm’ for large technology companies.
‘TikTok maintains a software development life cycle that involves testing of security controls at multiple points in the development process,’ the letter states.
Beckerman outlined other aspects of Project Texas – TikTok’s ‘framework’ to address national security concerns by U.S. lawmakers.
He assured Green that under Project Texas, all software and source code is also inspected by Oracle and a separate third-party.
‘This system provides an unprecedented and comprehensive level of assurance against ‘back doors’ – to our knowledge, more comprehensive than what any other peer company has committed to doing despite also using global engineering workforces,’ the TikTok leader wrote.
However, the answers provided by TikTok’s policy official was not enough to soothe concerns by the top Republican on the Homeland Security committee.
Green told DailyMail.com in an exclusive statement that based on the company’s response, the ‘threat of TikTok’ has never been more clear.
Lawmakers are continuing to scrutinize the Chinese-owned app TikTok, including it’s Chinese ownership
It is unclear if Chairman Mark Green will accept Beckerman’s offer to provide a Project Texas briefing to address concern
‘In a letter I received from TikTok, I was told that it is possible CCP-connected engineers could have a role in writing the app’s source code. This puts the data of Americans in danger,’ Green said.
‘The amount of ways the CCP can use technology to oppress its own people and harm Americans is endless. Yet, millions of Americans are giving this regime a window into their lives through apps like TikTok,’ the chairman continued.
It is unclear if Green will accept Beckerman’s offer to provide a Project Texas briefing to address concerns.
‘We would be happy to provide a Project Texas briefing for you and your staff to share our progress on implementing protocols through Project Texas to address these concerns,’ the TikTok public policy head had offered in the letter.
Green previously wrote that if he did not receive sufficient information from TikTok CEO Chew, he would be compelled to use a subpoena for his testimony.
Chew appeared before Congress in March, as lawmakers continue to scrutinize the Chinese-owned app.
Last week, Montana became the first state in the nation to fully ban the app.
A TikTok spokesperson said the company plans to challenge the new law in court.
‘We want to reassure Montanans that they can continue using TikTok to express themselves, earn a living, and find community as we continue working to defend the rights of our users inside and outside of Montana,’ said the spokesperson in a statement.
A handful of other states have restricted the app’s use on government-owned devices and networks.
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