Democratic senator raises concerns about Biden campaign decision to join TikTok

U.S. Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia and Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, holds a hearing about worldwide threats, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, U.S., April 14, 2021. Saul Loeb/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

ARLINGTON, Virginia (Reuters) - The chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee said on Monday he is concerned about the decision by the campaign of President Joe Biden to join short-video app TikTok, while the White House said nothing has changed about government national security concerns.

Democratic Senator Mark Warner said he was concerned about the national security implications of Chinese-owned TikTok and the Biden campaign decision to join.

"I think that we still need to find a way to follow India, which has prohibited TikTok," Warner said on the sidelines of an event. "I'm a little worried about a mixed message."

A number of Republican lawmakers have also criticized the campaign's decision to join TikTok, citing national security grounds. The Biden campaign now has more than 57,000 followers on TikTok.

TikTok did not immediately comment on Warner's remarks.

The White House noted that a ban on the use of TikTok on government devices that was approved by Congress in late 2022 remains in place.

White House spokesperson John Kirby said "nothing's changed about the national security concerns, from the (National Security Council) perspective, about the use of TikTok on government devices. That policy is still in place."

The U.S. Treasury-led Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) in March 2023 demanded that TikTok's Chinese owners sell their shares, or face the possibility of the app's being banned, Reuters and other outlets reported, but the administration has taken no action.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday that the review by CFIUS is ongoing and noted the White House previously endorsed legislation introduced by Warner and others to give the administration new tools to address threats posed by foreign-owned apps.

Efforts in Congress to ban TikTok or give the administration new tools to restrict it have stalled, but some lawmakers want the Commerce Department to put TikTok parent ByteDance on an export control list. Last month, TikTok told Congress that 170 million Americans now use the short video app, up from 150 million a year earlier.

The Biden campaign said Sunday it was taking "advanced safety precautions around our devices and incorporating a sophisticated security protocol to ensure security" as it works to court young voters who use the app.

(Reporting by David Shepardson and Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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