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TikTok CEO to Testify Before Congress Amid Proposed Ban

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TikTok’s CEO, Shou Zi Chew, will testify in front of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce in late March in his first appearance before Congress, according to a statement from the committee’s chair, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

The Republican representative from Washington said Chew is expected to comment on TikTok’s data security and user privacy policies, its impact on children and the company’s ties with China’s Communist Party.

The popular short-form video app and influential music discovery tool has become a lightning rod for political controversies as lawmakers on both sides have questioned the company’s handling of U.S. users’ data and whether it’s obligated to share user data with China’s ruling Communist Party. The app is owned by Chinese company ByteDance.

In an emailed statement, a TikTok spokesperson confirmed the hearing was to take place on March 23 and said 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.”

“We hope that by sharing details of our comprehensive plans with the full committee, Congress can take a more deliberative approach to the issues at hand,” the spokesperson said.

Congress is currently considering a bill introduced in December by Senator Marco Rubio (R-Flor.), Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) that would effectively ban TikTok and any other social media company headquartered in China, Russia or a handful of other countries from operating in the United States.

In addition, a number of U.S. states and large state universities have issued orders restricting access to TikTok on state-issued mobile devices and over campus internet.

In her own statement, Rodgers said that Bytedance has “knowingly allowed” the Chinese Communist Party to access U.S. users’ data, and her committee aims to ask TikTok for “complete and honest answers for people.”

“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.

A TikTok spokesperson refuted Rodgers’ statement.

“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 said. “Moreover, under the proposal we have devised with our country’s top national security agencies through CFIUS, that kind of data sharing—or any other form of foreign influence over the TikTok platform in the United States—would not be possible.”

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