US House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy said Sunday that lawmakers will move forward with legislation to address national security concerns about TikTok , alleging that the Chinese government has access to the data of users of the short video application TikTok.
As calls are growing in the United States to ban TikTok, which is owned by China-based ByteDance, or to pass a bipartisan bill to give President Joe Biden the administrative legal authority to request a ban. Recently, downloading of the TikTok app on US government-owned devices has been banned.
The CEO of TikTok appears before Congress
The CEO of TikTok: “The Chinese government does not control TikTok or our US data”— Genevieve Roch-Decter, CFA (@GRDecter) March 23, 2023
Will he be able to return to China after this? pic.twitter.com/fhtK1lRdDZ
On Thursday, TikTok CEO Xu Ziqiu answered questions from both Republican and Democratic members of the US House of Representatives for five hours regarding national security concerns revolving around the app shared by 150 million Americans.
During the session, Qiu was asked if the app had spied on Americans at Beijing’s request, and he replied, “No.”
Congressman Neil Dunn raised questions in December 2022 on the disclosure that some ByteDance personnel based in China had accessed two user accounts and two journalist profiles without permission. He inquired into whether this amounted to spying by the company, but Chiu dismissed his apprehensions saying, “I don’t think espionage is the right way to describe what happened.”
While McCarthy, who belongs to the Republican Party, said on Twitter Sunday: “It is very disturbing that the CEO of TikTok cannot tell the truth and acknowledge what we already know is true, which is that China has the right to access the data of TikTok users.”
Spending billions on data security
For its part, the company says it has spent more than $1.5 billion on data security efforts under the name (Project Texas), which currently employs nearly 1,500 full-time workers, and under which it contracted with Oracle to store the data of American TikTok users.
However, Chiu’s appearance before Congress did not succeed in assuaging the fears of the lawmakers. Representative Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin told ABC News Sunday that his appearance “actually increased the possibility that Congress might take some action.”
Get reassurances from TikTok
In a related context, advertisers are seeking reassurances from the short video application TikTok, while the Chinese-owned application is again facing a possible ban in the United States due to national security concerns.
According to research firm Insider Intelligence, TikTok’s advertising revenue in the United States is expected to reach $6.83 billion this year, up from $780 million in 2020.
For its part, the TikTok app, which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance and is widely popular among young users, said on Tuesday that it currently has 150 million monthly users in the United States.
While the company is under increasing pressure from US deputies calling on President Joe Biden’s administration to ban the application; Because of concerns that US users’ data might fall into the hands of the Chinese government.
On the other hand, a TikTok spokesperson said that the company has an “open, continuous, fact-based dialogue with advertisers, including providing regular updates and answers to questions about how we are working to build a trusted entertainment platform for users and brands.”