TikTok CEO Invited to Testify Before U.S Congress

Putri Alivia Rifaih . February 01, 2023

Picture: Bryan van der Beek/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Techspace - An upcoming hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee will involve testimony from TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, a party spokeswoman confirmed to CNN on Monday. Lawmakers are looking closely at the Chinese-owned video-sharing app through its parent business ByteDance, which has its links to China.

Chew will be the only witness at the meeting on March 23, according to a statement made on Monday by Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the Republican panel chair.

According to a hearing notification posted on the committee's website, he is scheduled to speak about TikTok's privacy and data security policies, its effects on teenage users, and its "connection to the Chinese Communist Party."

The committee's leader, Washington Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, also said in a statement, "We've made our concerns known with TikTok." She then continued “Now is the moment to bring TikTok before the committee to provide the public full and truthful answers, as part of the committee's ongoing efforts to hold Big Tech responsible.”

E&C Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a Republican from Washington, stated in a statement that "ByteDance-owned TikTok has deliberately given the capacity for the Chinese Communist Party to access American user data." 

“The American people have a right to know how these activities affect their data security and privacy, as well as what steps TikTok is taking to protect our children from risks both online and off.” She continues. 

In a response to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, TikTok stated that they "welcome the chance to clear up any misunderstandings regarding TikTok, ByteDance, and the measures we are making to address concerns about U.S. national security."

But the statement said, "Rep. McMorris Rodgers' assertion that TikTok has given the Chinese Communist Party access to user data is untrue. ByteDance and TikTok are not under the direct or indirect authority of the Chinese Communist Party.

That type of data sharing, as well as any other form of foreign influence over the TikTok platform in the United States, would not be conceivable under the approach we have developed with our nation's top national security agencies under CFIUS.

By outlining its proposals to the committee, the spokesman expressed the hope that "Congress may adopt a more thoughtful approach to the problems at hand."

The Reason Behind TikTok Hearing

Picture: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

The news comes after the company's discussions with the American authorities on how to safeguard its app there have dragged on for a while. TikTok has been interacting with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which has the authority to judge whether certain risk mitigation measures are sufficient to allay worries about national security.

However, it appears that such discussions have been put off at least until this past month since officials are still concerned about the effects of the app's ownership by the Chinese parent business ByteDance. This is due to the fact that corporations with offices in China may be required to provide data to the local authorities upon request. 

To reduce this danger, TikTok has already told American officials and politicians that it does not retain user data from Americans in China, but this hasn't done much to allay concerns.

Both political parties in Congress have expressed concerns over TikTok's potential effects on consumer privacy and national security, extending from the Trump administration to the Biden administration.

In a year-end legislative package, lawmakers passed a ban on TikTok on government devices, citing security concerns. In a statement at the time, a representative for TikTok referred to the bill's passage as "a political gesture that will do nothing to advance national security interests." 

Adding that the deal under consideration by CFIUS would "meaningfully address any security concerns that have been raised at both the federal and state level."

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