The US government is tracking a growing number of foreign-linked business transactions that pose potential data risks to national security similar to those raised by TikTok, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told lawmakers Thursday.
At a House Appropriations Committee hearing, Yellen said regulators charged with screening foreign investment deals for national security risks have witnessed a rise in such cases, but she declined to discuss specifics.
“When it comes to data, we’re seeing an increasing number of cases that do present risks around this issue of the type that have been mentioned in connection with TikTok,” Yellen told Iowa Republican Rep. Ashley Hinson.
Yellen reiterated that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States — the multi-agency panel chaired by the Treasury Department that performs the reviews — will not approve any transaction that undermines national security.
Those remarks echoed a statement from earlier in the day from a Department spokesperson, and they coincided with TikTok CEO Shou Chew’s testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Chew struggled to convince hostile Democrats and Republicans that TikTok user data will be secure from Chinese government spying under an initiative called Project Texas, as lawmakers at times bluntly said they did not believe his promises.
Yellen did not elaborate on CFIUS’ continuing negotiations with TikTok except to say that the litigation connected to the talks is still ongoing, after Hinson asked Yellen to explain the reasons for delay.
Yellen added that Treasury has requested more funds to bolster its own network defenses as she described the agency as a major target for cyberattacks.
“We’ve requested increases to be able to do that, especially given the role that the Department plays in imposing sanctions,” Yellen said. “We are a target of a serious number of cyberattacks and we are investing very heavily in cybersecurity to meet very high standards.”