TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew will appear in March before the House Energy and Commerce Committee as lawmakers push to examine the video-sharing app’s ties to China and its consumer data privacy and security practices.
Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) said calling the TikTok chief to testify is part of the panel’s goal of “asking Big Tech CEOs — from Facebook to Twitter to Google — to answer for their companies’ actions.”
The social media app TikTok, which is owned by China-based parent company ByteDance, “has knowingly allowed the ability for the Chinese Communist Party to access American user data,” Rodgers said.
“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,” she added. “It is now time to continue the committee’s efforts to hold Big Tech accountable by bringing TikTok before the committee to provide complete and honest answers for people.”
Chew is set to testify before the full committee at a March 23 hearing in his first appearance before Congress. He’ll talk about “TikTok’s consumer privacy and data security practices, the platforms’ impact on kids, and their relationship with the Chinese Communist Party,” according to the committee.
A TikTok spokesperson told The Hill that the company sees Chew’s congressional committee appearance as an “opportunity to set the record straight” and talk about its security plans, adding that “there is no truth” to Rodgers’ claim that TikTok user data could be available to the Chinese Communist Party.
“The Chinese Communist Party has neither direct nor indirect control of ByteDance or TikTok. 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,” the spokesperson said.
The app, which boasts more than 85 million users in the U.S. alone, has been banned on federal and many state government devices, due to concerns about its privacy and security.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) last week introduced a bill to ban the TikTok from being downloaded on any U.S. device.
Predominantly used by younger Americans, TikTok is also under scrutiny due to concerns about children’s privacy and the potential influence of the Chinese Communist Party in reaching children on the app.