February 16, 2024


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Cotton probes DOD on security risks of Chinese-owned tutoring company for US military families

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., is urging the Department of Defense (DOD) to share information about the agency’s contract with a Chinese-owned financial corporation that provides tutoring services for U.S. military families. 

On Thursday, Cotton sent a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin calling the business relationship with Hong Kong-based Primavera Capital Group ‘ill advised, reckless,’ and a danger to U.S. national security. 

Primavera, the capital group associated with TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, owns the tutoring service Tutor.com and has provided critical funding to the TikTok giant. 

‘We should not be giving the Chinese communists access to the data of United States servicemembers and their families,’ Cotton, a member of the Senate’s intelligence committee, told Fox News Digital in a statement. ‘I look forward to a full explanation from the Department of Defense on their continued use of Tutor.com.’

Like ByteDance and any other Chinese tech company, Primavera is subject to Chinese national security laws which require tech companies to release confidential business and customer data. Primavera acquired Tutor.com in January 2022. 

‘While providing educational services, Tutor.com collects personal data on users, such as location, internet protocol addresses, and contents of the tutoring sessions,’ Cotton wrote. ‘As Chinese national security laws require companies to release confidential business and customer data to the Chinese government, we are paying to expose our military and their children’s private information to the Chinese Communist Party.’

By next week, Cotton is urging the DOD to provide information regarding whether they participated in any security reviews concerning Primavera’s acquisition before its approval, and if so, whether any concerns were raised during this process. 

Cotton also sought clarification on whether an internal review has been conducted to determine the continuation of the business relationship with Tutor.com, and if such a review has not taken place, an explanation is requested. Additionally, Cotton wants statistics on the annual usage of Tutor.com by military personnel or their dependents, and whether users are informed that their data may be shared with a Chinese company.

Cotton has previously called for a nationwide ban on TikTok, saying last month that the CEO is ‘lying’ about the app being safe for users. 

Fox News Digital has reached out to the DOD for comment. 

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