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TikTok CEO set to testify on Capitol Hill for first time as calls for US ban mount

The head of TikTok shall be grilled on the Capitol as a growing variety of US lawmakers call for the favored Chinese app to be banned on national security grounds.

CEO Shou Zi Chew will answer questions from members of the House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce regarding TikTok’s “consumer privacy practices and data security, the impact of platforms on children, and their relationship with the Chinese Communist Party,” in response to Monday’s announcement.

The hearing on March 23 shall be Chew’s first testimony on Capitol Hill.

“TikTok, which is owned by ByteDance, has knowingly allowed the Chinese Communist Party access to the information of US users,” Commission Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) said in a press release.

“Americans should understand how these actions affect their privacy and data security, and what actions TikTok is taking to guard our kids from online and offline harm,” added Rodgers.

TikTok confirmed that Chew would testify, but dismissed Rodgers’ characterization of his activities. The company has long denied that ByteDance employees have access to data within the US, despite multiple reports on the contrary.

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew will testify before House’s panel.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

“There is not any truth to McMorris Rodgers’s claim that TikTok shared US user data with the Chinese Communist Party,” the corporate said in a press release. “The Chinese Communist Party has no direct or indirect control over ByteDance or TikTok.”

“We welcome the chance to elucidate TikTok, ByteDance, and the commitments we’re making to deal with U.S. national security concerns before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce,” the corporate added.

TikTok has faced intense bilateral scrutiny of its parent company ByteDance’s ties to Beijing and is anxious that the Chinese government has access to the private data of US users. Critics have also raised concerns concerning the app’s impact on the mental health of young users.

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew
Shou Zi Chew has been the CEO of TikTok since 2021.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

TikTok is one of the vital used apps on the earth with over 100 million users within the US alone.

Earlier this month, Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), a staunch critic of Big Tech corporations, said he planned to introduce a bill to ban TikTok within the US.

The senator described the app as “a Chinese backdoor into American lives” and said it “endangers our kids’s privacy in addition to their mental health.”

In December, US lawmakers passed a bipartisan spending bill that included a provision banning the download and use of TikTok on government-owned devices. The clause contained limited exceptions for law enforcement, national security, or research purposes.

FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr, a Republican, also called for TikTok to be banned, although the agency lacks regulatory oversight of the app.

Shou Zi Chew
Shou Zi Chew and Vivian Kao on the Met Gala 2022.
Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue

In November, Carr argued that TikTok wouldn’t have the opportunity to adequately address concerns that Beijing might inappropriately access US TikTok user data.

TikTok has been negotiating for years with the US Council on Foreign Investment (CFIUS), an inter-agency committee that assesses foreign investment within the country, over a possible resolution that might allow it to avoid an outright ban.

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