TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew’s testimony before Congress Thursday was an attempt to defend the popular social media app against skeptical lawmakers concernedabout the app’s potential threat to national security. But those lawmakers appear to be even more committed to reigning in TikTok.
“I think this actually increases the likelihood that Congress will take some action,” Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., chair of the House Select Committee on China, said of the hearing on ABC’s “This Week”.
Capitol Hill’s growing animosity towards TikTok has become a bipartisan sentiment, with lawmakers in both political parties calling on Congress to crack down on TikTok.
hhe hearing only “created more concerns quite frankly,” Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois the top Democrat on the committee, said on ABC’s “This Week”.
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Congress doesn’t trust TikTok
Chew faced an uphill battle from the start, but the lawmakers on the House Energy and Commerce Committee who were grilling Chew over the app’s handling of private user data and security practices took an adversarial tone that signaled they won’t be changing their minds any time soon.
“TikTok has repeatedly chosen a path for more control, more surveillance and more manipulation,” said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., chair of the committee, told Chew at the start of the hearing before Chew even delivered his opening statement. “Your platform should be banned.”
Related: Lawmakers say TikTok hearing validated security concerns. But TikTokers aim criticism at Congress
Despite Chew’s repeated reassurances that his company is taking active steps to safeguard its collection of user data, McMorris Rodgers told CNN’s “State of the Union” the hearing only reinforced her belief that the app should be outright banned.
“What the hearing made clear to me was that TikTok should be banned in the United States of America to address the immediate threat,” said McMorris Rodgers.
Why are lawmakers so concerned about TikTok and ByteDance?
Lawmakers main concern with TikTok lies in its Beijing-based parent company, ByteDance. TikTok’s critics say the Chinese government could access the app’s massive collection of user data. TikTok saysmore than 150 million Americans are on the platform.
U.S. officials say the app poses a threat to national security regarding its ties to the Chinese government and how influential the app is in the U.S. FBI Director Christopher Wray testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee in early March that China could use the app as a vehicle for disinformation campaigns.
“At the end of the day, TikTok is owned by a Chinese company ByteDance. And by Chinese law, that company has to be willing to turn over data to the Communist Party,” said Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., on CBS “Face the Nation”.
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A national data security law?
TikTok’s defenders contend that lawmakers’ hostility towards the app is unnecessarily targeted, considering other social media platforms have failed to properly secure private user data before. Chew in his testimony to Congress pointed to Facebook and the Cambridge Analytica data scandal.
To that point, some lawmakers have floated legislation on data protection to regulate social media companies There is no single federal law that regulates how companies manage user data collection.
“We need to take action, whether it’s TikTok, big tech or other data brokers to restrict the amount of data that they’re collecting to begin with,” said McMorris Rodgers.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Lawmakers more dug in against TikTok after CEO testifies to Congress
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