On Sunday, Kevin McCarthy, the U.S. House Speaker from California's Republican party, declared that legislation advocating for a TikTok ban across the country would be pushed forward following the testimony of the video-sharing app's CEO before Congress last week.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee summoned TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew to appear before their panel and give testimony regarding concerns over national security threats, data privacy, and the app's safety issues for its 150 million American users.
At the hearing, Chew failed to provide a response when asked whether individuals affiliated with ByteDance, the Chinese parent company of the social media platform, aided him in preparing for the hearing. Lawmakers continued to question Chew, inquiring whether the app has conducted surveillance on Americans at the behest of Beijing, to which the CEO refuted the allegations.
“It’s very concerning that the CEO of TikTok can’t be honest and admit what we already know to be true—China has access to TikTok user data,” McCarthy tweeted. “The House will be moving forward with legislation to protect Americans from the technological tentacles of the Chinese Communist Party.”
It's very concerning that the CEO of TikTok can't be honest and admit what we already know to be true—China has access to TikTok user data.
The House will be moving forward with legislation to protect Americans from the technological tentacles of the Chinese Communist Party.
— Kevin McCarthy (@SpeakerMcCarthy) March 26, 2023
Earlier, McCarthy indicated his backing for a countrywide ban on TikTok, echoing apprehensions expressed by lawmakers from both the Democratic and Republican parties. These concerns center around accusations that the Chinese Communist Party can access user data through connections between TikTok and ByteDance, and the degree of control and influence that Chinese authorities wield over both entities.
“I think you see a bipartisan concern here with what’s happening on TikTok, especially what’s happening to the data for Americans,” McCarthy said to The Hill. “There’s many different ramifications here, so I think they could come together and let the committees do their work and see what the product comes out when it gets done.”
"Chew’s appearance in Congress actually increased the likelihood that Congress will take some action," said Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), who chairs the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, in an interview with ABC News on Sunday.
Concerned about data security and surveillance, President Joe Biden and multiple state officials have prohibited the use of TikTok on government devices. This decision came after reports surfaced that ByteDance employees in China leveraged the platform to track the whereabouts of particular American users.
He stated that officials from the Committee on Foreign Investment have been conducting a continuous assessment to examine potential security risks.
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