Top officials from the U.S. intelligence community appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee Wednesday to testify on the top global security threats facing the United States right now.
The hearing comes as a bipartisan group of senators is hoping to pass a bill to give President Joe Biden more authority to restrict technological foreign threats. Included in the list of technological foreign threats is the incredibly popular Chinese-owned app called TikTok.
In a hearing before the committee, top security officials testified as to why Chinese apps and software pose a growing national security threat.
"This is not about TikTok. This is about any app, any electronics that are coming from China. That information goes back through China, so I don't want us to just zero in and say this is just a TikTok thing. And once we deal with TikTok then it's solved. That's not true," warned Sen. James Lankford (R-OK).
FBI Director Christopher Wray said TikTok "screams out with national security concerns," explaining he believes the Chinese government could use it to drive narratives and divide Americans against each other.
"Could they use TikTok to control data on millions of users?" Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) asked Wray.
"Yes," the FBI director replied.
"Could they use it to control the software on millions of devices given the opportunity to do so?" continued Rubio.
"Yes," Wray warned.
Another hot topic that came before the committee was why the intelligence community is divided on the origins of COVID-19.
"Basically there's a broad consensus in the intelligence community that the outbreak is not the result of a bioweapon or genetic engineering," explained Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines. "What there isn't a consensus on is whether or not it's a lab leak or natural exposure to an infected animal."
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) claims China's actions to hinder the investigation into the origin of COVID-19 is not the action of an innocent party.
"I just don't understand why you continue to maintain on behalf of the intelligence community that these are two equally plausible explanations, they simply are not," Collins told Haines.
Lankford also questioned Wray about a leaked FBI memo warning of violent, extremist, Catholic ideology.
"We do not and will not target people for their religious beliefs and we do not and will not monitor people's religious practices that's not acceptable," Wray said.
Lankford added he wasn't surprised to see the source of the memo was the Southern Poverty Law Center.
"For whatever reason, the FBI continues to be able to count on them for listing who's a hate group. They have a long history of having anti-Christian bias," Lankford said.
All the intelligence officials agree TikTok poses a national security threat. This week, the White House announced it supports a bipartisan bill that would give the president the power to ban foreign-based technologies like TikTok, which currently has over 100 million American users.