TikTok CEO set to testify on Capitol Hill for first time as calls for US ban mount
TikTok’s boss will be grilled on Capitol Hill as a growing number of US lawmakers call for the popular Chinese-owned app to be banned over national security concerns.
CEO Shou Zi Chew will face questions from members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee about TikTok’s “consumer privacy and data security practices, the platforms’ impact on kids, and their relationship with the Chinese Communist Party,” according to a release Monday.
The March 23 hearing will mark the first time Chew has testified on Capitol Hill.
“ByteDance-owned TikTok has knowingly allowed the ability for the Chinese Communist Party to access American user data,” committee chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) said in a statement.
“Americans deserve to know how these actions impact their privacy and data security, as well as what actions TikTok is taking to keep our kids safe from online and offline harms,” Rodgers added.
TikTok confirmed that Chew would testify, but fired back at Rodgers’ characterization of its business. The company has long denied that ByteDance employees can access US data, despite multiple reports to the contrary.
“There is no truth to Rep. McMorris Rodgers’ claim that TikTok has made U.S. user data available to the Chinese Communist Party,” the company said in a statement. “The Chinese Communist Party has neither direct nor indirect control of ByteDance or TikTok.”
“We welcome the opportunity to set the record straight about TikTok, ByteDance, and the commitments we are making to address concerns about U.S. national security before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce,” the company added.
TikTok has faced intense bipartisan scrutiny over its parent company ByteDance’s ties to Beijing and fears that the Chinese government has access to the private data of US users. Critics have also raised concerns about the app’s impact on the mental health of young users.
TikTok is one of the most widely-used apps in the world, with more than 100 million users in the US alone.
Earlier this month, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), an outspoken critic of Big Tech firms, said he planned to introduce a bill to ban TikTok within the US.
The senator described the app as “China’s backdoor into Americans’ lives” and said it “threatens our children’s privacy as well as their mental health.”
In December, US lawmakers passed a bipartisan spending bill that included a provision banning the downloading and use of TikTok on government-owned devices. The clause included limited exceptions for law enforcement, national security or research purposes.
FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr, a Republican, has also called for a ban on TikTok, though the agency lacks regulatory oversight over the app.
In November, Carr argued that TikTok would not be able to adequately address concerns that Beijing could improperly access the data of US-based TikTok users.
TikTok has been in negotiations for years with the Council on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS), an interagency committee that reviews foreign investment in the country, on a potential resolution that would allow it to avoid an outright ban.
With Post wires