TikTok CEO To Testify On Capitol Hill

Faced with growing criticism over data practices, the Chinese-owned social app TikTok will send its CEO to testify to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Washington) said Monday.

“ByteDance-owned TikTok has knowingly allowed the ability for the Chinese Communist Party to access American user data,” Rodgers stated. “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.”

CEO Shou Zi Chew, who had not previously appeared before a Congressional committee, is slated to testify at a March 23 hearing.

News of Chew's anticipated appearance comes as the company comes under increasing scrutiny with regard to how it handles consumers' data. While some officials have criticized TikTok's data practices for years, concerns about privacy appeared to increase last year after it emerged that ByteDance used data collected through the app to track the locations of two U.S. journalists.



Last year, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and Representatives Mike Gallagher (R-Wisconsin) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Illinois) proposed legislation that aimed to block transactions in the U.S. by social-media apps under the control of China, Russia and several other countries.

Dozens of states have banned the app from government devices, while public universities in Texas, Georgia and Oklahoma have blocked access on campus WiFi networks.

Former President Donald Trump issued executive orders in 2020 that would have blocked TikTok, but was rebuffed in court in two separate lawsuits -- one brought by TikTok, and another brought by users of the app.

Trump issued the orders under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, but federal judges said that law limits the government's ability to block “informational material” -- including photos and news feeds -- or “personal communications.”

In 2021, the Biden administration ordered the Commerce Department to study the threats posed by some foreign countries' data collection, and to issue recommendations to protect U.S. residents from the potential harm posed by the transfer of their sensitive data -- including personally identifiable information, health and genetic information -- to foreign adversaries.

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