Matt Bush, FISM News
Shou Zi Chew, the CEO of the popular social media app TikTok, will testify before Congress in March as security concerns about the app have led many lawmakers to push for a total U.S. ban.
Chew is scheduled to stand before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on March 23. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), chairwoman of the committee, made the announcement Monday noting that topics to be discussed include TikTok’s data security practices along with the impact the app has on children.
“ByteDance-owned TikTok has knowingly allowed the ability for the Chinese Communist Party to access American user data. 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 said in her announcement.
TikTok currently has more than one billion active users, and statistics about the app reveal how popular it is both in the U.S. and across the globe:
- On average, users spend more than 1.5 hours per day on the app.
- TikTok has been installed on devices more than 3.5 billion times.
- More than 18 million users in the U.S. have downloaded TikTok from the Apple Store.
- TikTok is available in 154 countries and is the most popular overall app globally.
- 600 million active daily users in China alone.
While there are many who question the effects that the extensive use of social media can have on individuals as well as the nature of some of the content that the platform hosts, what is of main concern to legislators is the fact that the company is headquartered in China and the potential for data mining on U.S. citizens. According to Fox News, “China’s laws require its tech companies to share their data with the government whenever asked, leading to widespread concern that the app is turning over data on Americans.”
In 2020, President Trump signed an executive order to ban the app from app stores in America. After the ban was held up in court by numerous liberal judges, President Joe Biden revoked the executive order in June 2021. Today, the push to ban TikTok from federal government devices, some state entities, and the general public enjoy bipartisan support.
A TikTok spokesperson said that they, “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.”
“There is no truth to Rep. McMorris Rodgers’ claim that TikTok has made U.S. user data available to the Chinese Communist Party. The Chinese Communist Party has neither direct nor indirect control of ByteDance or TikTok,” the spokesperson continued.
This push for an overall ban on the app comes on the heels of Congress passing a spending package that included TikTok being banned from all federal government devices. President Biden signed that bill into law, but many lawmakers are concerned that steps are not being taken to enforce the new law.
It seems clear that the Chinese government can request data from its companies whenever they want, and it is up to this now Republican-led committee to decide whether or not to push for a ban on the TikTok app.