House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Sunday endorsed a ban on the popular social video app TikTok.
“It's very concerning that the CEO of TikTok can't be honest and admit what we already know to be true -- China has access to TikTok user data,” McCarthy, a Republican from California, tweeted. “The House will be moving forward with legislation to protect Americans from the technological tentacles of the Chinese Communist Party.”
His statement came several days after lawmakers grilled TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew over the company's policies regarding online privacy and potentially harmful content.
Chew defended TikTok at the hearing, arguing that its policies were comparable to those of other large social-networking platforms.
He also said that any national security risks posed by the app, owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, are only "hypothetical" and "theoretical."
But some lawmakers said Chew's testimony last week failed to allay concerns.
Senators Mark Warner (D-Virginia) and John Thune (R-South Dakota) recently introduced the Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology (RESTRICT) Act, which could ultimately lead to a ban on apps or other communications technology owned by China and other companies deemed foreign adversaries.
The Biden administration recently attempted to persuade ByteDance to sell TikTok, but China said last week that it would oppose a sale.
Earlier this month, the House Foreign Affairs Committee voted along party lines to advance a bill that could empower President Joe Biden to ban TikTok.
That measure, Deterring America's Foreign Adversaries Act (HR 1553), would revise the International Emergency Economic Powers Act by allowing the government to block “informational” material, in some situations. Currently, the International Emergency Economic Powers Act limits the ability to material considered informational, such as photos and news feeds.
Democrats on the Foreign Affairs Committee opposed the measure, arguing it's inconsistent with free-speech principles.
Civil rights advocates including the American Civil Liberties Union and Fight for the Future have also weighed in against a potential ban.
“If passed by Congress and enacted into law, a nationwide ban on TikTok would have serious ramifications for free expression in the digital sphere, infringing on Americans’ First Amendment rights and setting a potent and worrying precedent in a time of increased censorship of internet users around the world,” advocacy groups said in a letter sent to lawmakers last week.