Transcript for Restrictions on TikTok ‘likely inevitable’: Cybersecurity expert Chris Krebs
- For more on today's hearing, we're joined now by cyber security expert Chris Krebs, who served as director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency during the Trump administration. Thank you so much for joining us tonight, Mr. Krebs. I'm curious, did you hear anything from TikTok's CEO in today's hearing that would reduce concerns that members of Congress should have about the security risk of China being able to access the data of Americans on TikTok?
- Actually, I heard otherwise. I heard that there's 150 million users of the TikTok platform puts TikTok in such a central position in the US zeitgeist effectively. I think that actually raises the consequences in the eyes of Congress, members of Congress.
- TikTok CEO said that the data issues were not unique to TikTok, saying that other companies hold the same risk. So is there too much focus on TikTok specifically here or do they pose a unique security risk?
- I think the unique security risk posed by TikTok is the fact that their parent company, ByteDance, is a China-based company and there's a series of laws and regulations, including the National Security Act, that require those companies to provide information, data, and access. And that is, I think, the principal concern here is that the Chinese government has the potential to dig into data that, in some cases, they already have, but this is a much broader dragnet of information. That said, I do think that there's an opportunity here to pass a federal privacy law that would address a much broader set of issues, including, as you pointed out, some US-based social media and other platforms as well.
- Any concern about the backlash among creative users that could come if the US government were to ban TikTok?
- I think that's a significant political problem. And I'm not sure either political party, Republicans or Democrats, really want to ultimately own this. And, in part, that may be why we see them in such a bipartisan lockstep fashion opposing TikTok.
- In your view, should a ban on TikTok in the US happen, or is there a way to avoid that at this point?
- Well, I think at this point, it's likely inevitable that TikTok will have some sort of restrictions, whether it's an outright ban or a for sale, whether that goes through because the Chinese opposition is up in the air. But I do think that we need a more comprehensive approach to digital threats. When I was the director of CISA in 2017, we issued an order to remove Kaspersky anti-virus products from the US government networks. We take a far too ad-hoc approach. I think if we had a more comprehensive approach, as suggested by a number of senators in the Restrict Act, that's probably a more effective way to address these risks.
- Before I let you go, just wondering based on your expertise and your knowledge for the parents who are listening right now who may have teenagers who are saying, should I not allow my kids to use TikTok? What is your thought?
- So that's a different set of issues. That is not necessarily a national security risk. Those are child safety and other harmful content risks. There have been a number of research reports and whatnot that within the first couple of minutes of signing up for a TikTok account, a range of different harmful content is provided, including eating disorders and suicide. So I really do think that there is a sound dose of parenting that is required here. But also I think a Child Safety Act or piece of legislation is also long overdue.
- Chris Krebs, so appreciate your insight tonight. Thank you.
- Thank you.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.