Congress Makes TikTok CEO Squirm Over Security Risks from Communist Regime
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CAPITOL HILL - The CEO of TikTok faced a bipartisan grilling in Congress today. The popular app is owned by a Chinese company. That has Congress concerned that the user data of roughly 150-million Americans could wind up in the hands of the communist Chinese regime.
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew tried to calm Congress's growing desire to ban the app in America. He testified that nearly half the country is using the app and argued a potential ban would hurt small businesses that use the platform to generate interest.
Idaho Republican Russ Fulcher sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee hosting Chew. He told CBN he has concerns over the data being collected and would ask Chew about it.
"The data gathering itself is a big concern but probably even a bigger concern is, what happens to that data when it's collected? It winds up going to Chinese authorities or it certainly has the ability to go to Chinese authorities," Rep. Fulcher told CBN.
"First of all, do you have – as alleged – recorded conversations that I've had? If so, why do you need that? Why do you need my contacts, why do you need my precise location all the time, why do you need to know what my activities are and my kids' activities? Why the level of intrusiveness and where does it go?"
Lawmakers' main concerns focus on TikTok's parent company ByteDance. The FBI has warned it could share user data with the Chinese government. The White House gave government agencies a month to get the app off federal devices, and other countries have instituted similar bans.
There's been growing bipartisan support to do something about the app ranging from a full-on ban to a forced sale to mandated firewall protections. But at least one Democrat is backing TikTok. New York's Jamaal Bowman appeared with TikTok creators ahead of the hearing in support of the controversial app.
"Why the hysteria and the panic and the targeting of TikTok? As we know Republicans, in particular, have been sounding the alarm creating a 'red scare' around China," said Rep. Bowman.
The rally featured TikTok creators who've leveraged the platform to make a living.
"TikTok has done much more than just give me exposure. It has allowed me to increase my income by 700%, and with this extra income has allowed me to support myself, build a studio, and pay staff. If this platform is taken away, I'm not sure I'll be able to do that," said Robert Lucas, a TikTok cake artist who has gained a significant following.
In his prepared remarks, Chew told the committee ByteDance is not an agent of China or any other country and will make safety for children a top priority. It's shaping up to be one of the most watched hearings on the Hill so far this year.
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