Tech

Schumer raises concerns about the Army using TikTok to recruit in a letter to Secretary McCarthy

Key Points
  • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. expressed concerns about the Army's use of TikTok for recruitment purposes in a letter to U.S. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy.
  • Schumer and Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., previously asked the acting director of national intelligence to assess national security risks of TikTok and other China-based social media platforms.
  • TikTok is facing a national security inquiry from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, CNBC previously reported, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks after a Democratic policy lunch on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 5, 2019
Jim Young | Reuters

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. raised concerns about Army personnel using TikTok and other China-based social media platforms in a letter to U.S. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy dated last Thursday. BuzzFeed News first published the letter.

The letter, which was released Tuesday, builds on concerns Schumer and Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., sent to Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire a couple weeks earlier. The senators asked "that the Intelligence Community conduct an assessment of the national security risks posed by TikTok and other China-based content platforms operating in the U.S. and brief Congress on these findings."

In the letter to McCarthy, Schumer warns of potential harms that could result from Army personnel using TikTok in both a professional and personal capacity. Schumer raised concerns about the Army's new advertising recruitment plans including building on its social media presence.

"While I recognize that the Army must adapt its recruiting techniques in order to attract young Americans to serve, I urge you to assess the potential national security risks posed by China-owned technology companies before choosing to utilize certain platforms," Schumer wrote. He asked that McCarthy answer questions about its process for evaluating the potential security risks of the platform and possible alternative recruitment tools by Dec. 6.

TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) is conducting an inquiry into TikTok parent company ByteDance to learn if its acquisition of social media app Musical.ly poses a national security risk, CNBC previously reported, according to a person familiar with the situation.

In his letter to McCarthy, Schumer expressed concern that TikTok and other China-based social media companies could be compelled "to support and cooperate with intelligence work controlled by the Chinese Communist Party. Further, due to a lack of transparency and without an independent judiciary to review requests made by the Chinese government for user data or other actions, there is no legal mechanism for Chinese companies to appeal if they disagree with a request."

TikTok has previously said it does not store data for its U.S. users in China and its data centers are located outside of China and not subject to Chinese law. It also said it "does not remove content based on sensitivities related to China" and has never been asked to do so by the Chinese government.

"We are not influenced by any foreign government, including the Chinese government; TikTok does not operate in China, nor do we have any intention of doing so in the future," TikTok previously wrote on its blog.

-CNBC's Lauren Hirsch contributed to this report.

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