The Chinese government’s grasp on American society has grown exponentially not only through the launch of Tik Tok, one of the most downloaded applications of 2019, but through various data breaches that have gone undiscussed in the public sphere as well.
Through Tik Tok, the Chinese government has implemented forms of censorship when users speak out against the Chinese government. The Beijing-based company is run by a parent company, ByteDance, which is considered to be a Chinese tech giant, according to the Washington Post. Although the company states its U.S. operation takes no measure in censoring political content, 17-year-old Feroza Aziz had her account suspended after calling on her viewers to research the Muslim detention camps in China. With the Chinese government censoring American speech through a social media app alone, it leaves speculation regarding their potential control on the web.
Not only has the Chinese government found a way to censor the American public, but it is speculated that Chinese hackers are responsible for three major data breaches in an attempt at espionage into U.S. government officials and intelligence operatives, according to CSO Online.
In April of 2015, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, or OPM, an agency that serves as the chief human resources office for federal government, had millions of SF-86 forms exfiltrated, meaning that personal information gathered through background checks as well as fingerprints were breached. In March of 2017, Equifax, a credit reporting agency, had terabytes of data stolen from multiple databases which included sensitive information such as social security numbers and driver’s license numbers, among other personal information. In September of 2018, the Marriott hotel chain had up to 500 million guest records accessed, which contained sensitive information such as credit card information and passport numbers.
None of the breached information can be found anywhere. Typically, data breaches are done with the intent of spreading the information for more sinister practices, such as through the use of the dark web to aid in fraud and identity theft. However, none of the data stolen from any of the three breaches can be found anywhere on the dark web for sale, leading to the speculation that the hacking is being done with the intent of espionage.
With these major breaches and the rise in Tik Tok, it is alarming that none of this has had more widespread discussion in the public sphere. With censorship and data breaches, how far does Chinese government have to push before the United States actually addresses the risks?