(WFXR) — U.S. Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) are calling for an investigation into TikTok and its parent company, ByteDance, after reports surfaced that the social media platform’s executives and engineers in China are able to access American users’ private data.

The senators pushed for action in a letter to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Lina Khan:

We write in response to public reports that individuals in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) have been accessing data on U.S. users, in contravention of several public representations, including sworn testimony in October 2021. In an interview with the online publication Cyberscoop, the Global Chief Security Officer for TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, made a number of public representations on the data security practices of TikTok, including unequivocal claims that the data of American users is not accessible to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the government of the PRC. As you know, TikTok’s privacy practices are already subject to a consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission, based on its improper collection and processing of personal information from children. In light of this new report, we ask that your agency immediately initiate a Section 5 investigation on the basis of apparent deception by TikTok, and coordinate this work with any national security or counter-intelligence investigation that may be initiated by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Part of letter written to FTC Chair Lina Khan by U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Marco Rubio

If you want to read the senators’ entire letter to Khan, click here.

As chairman and vice chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Warner and Rubio have been vocal in the past about the cyber and national security threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party, which partially owns a subsidiary of TikTok’s parent company, according to officials.

“Politically, if you have two sides coming together to investigate something, that should tell you one thing in general — that it’s important, and they’ve both been pushing for this since 2019,” said Mary Hamilton, CEO of Mad Data IO, a Roanoke cybersecurity company.

Hamilton knows all about other countries trying to get a hold of Americans’ personal information. She says they have been harvesting user data for a few years, as well as taking biometric data.

“TikTok may transmit your data to its servers or data centers outside of the United States for storage and/or processing. Third parties with whom TikTok may share your data as described herein may be located outside of the United States.”

TikTok legal policies

According to Hamilton, anyone that uses TikTok is at risk of giving away extremely personal data.

“They’re getting your user history, your browser history… they will log keystroke information, meaning passwords that you put in, anything that you’re searching for, usernames; they’re saving texts and images on the clipboard on the app,” Hamilton explained.

Since TikTok is a video app, the Mad Data IO CEO says it can go as far as saving your videos and your face, which can do a lot of damage.

“They can definitely weaponize this. Our major attacks come from Russia and from China,” she said. “Those are major threat actors that are attacking us as small businesses. A lot of individuals don’t see the brunt of this.”

Hamilton says it comes down to a personal choice. If you are comfortable with other countries having your information, that’s fine.

For Hamilton, though, she says she’s never had the app and none of her five kids are allowed to have it either.

If you still want to enjoy scrolling through videos on social media, the Roanoke cybersecurity expert recommends using the American app Instagram rather than TikTok.