Senators ask Justice Department to investigate TikTok, Zoom

Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) on Thursday urged the Department of Justice (DOJ) to open investigations into social media platform TikTok and video conferencing service Zoom, citing concerns over potential security threats from ties to the Chinese government.

In a letter to Justice Department Assistant Attorney General John Demers, Hawley and Blumenthal wrote that they were “extremely concerned” that Zoom and TikTok had potentially disclosed private American information to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and censored content on the CCP’s behalf.

“As tens of millions of Americans turn to Zoom and TikTok during the COVID-19 pandemic, few know that the privacy of their data and their freedom of expression is under threat due to the relationship of these companies to the Chinese government,” the senators wrote. “Of particular concern, both Zoom and TikTok have sought to conceal and distract from their meaningful ties to China, holding themselves out as American companies.”

TikTok is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, which is headquartered in Beijing, though TikTok is taking steps to move storage of American data to the U.S. this year.

Zoom is headquartered in the U.S., but the senators cited a report from Citizen Lab that found Zoom was developed through three companies in China that employ at least 700 workers to develop software.