TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew will testfy before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in March about the social media platform’s consumer privacy and data security practices, its impact on kids and its relationship with the Chinese Communist Party, the committee announced in a news release Monday.
“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,” the committee said its release. “We’ve made our concerns clear with TikTok. 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.”
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Chew, who will be making his first appearance before a congressional committee, is likely to face aggressive questioning about TikTok’s data collection and concerns that its parent company, Chinese-owned ByteDance, could be forced to share that data with the Chinese government.
Over half of the nation’s state governments, as well as the U.S. military, have banned the use of TikTok on government-issued devices because of those fears. In November, FBI Director Christopher Wray said, “We do have national security concerns. They include the possibility that the Chinese government could use it to control data collection on millions of users.”
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Sen. Mark Warner, chairman of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, has other concerns about the platform, too, for instance, “the fact is, the algorithms that determine what you see on TikTok [are] determined out of Beijing — by China.” He told CBS News “Face the Nation” moderator Margaret Brennan Sunday, “The proof is, if you look at what Chinese kids are seeing on their version of TikTok, which emphasizes science and engineering, versus what our kids and kids around the world are seeing, it is dramatically different. So, both from a data collection, and from frankly, a propaganda tool, it is of huge concern.”
TikTok has over 1 billion monthly users worldwide and tracks users’ likes, dislikes and some personal information.
Chew will testify at a full committee hearing on Mar. 23.
TikTok has maintained that it collects less data than other social media apps and is working to move user data to servers in the U.S., out of China’s reach.