US Proceeding with Plan to Ban TikTok
US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has said that US lawmakers would proceed with legislation to ban TikTok across the country. In a tweet, McCarthy expressed his concern about TikTok, stating “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. The House will be moving forward with legislation to protect Americans from the technological tentacles of the Chinese Communist Party.”
The decision comes days after TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testified in front of the U.S. House Committee and was grilled by lawmakers from both sides of the aisle for over five hours. Owned by Chinese company ByteDance, concerns have been raised about China's access to the data gathered by TikTok, a claim which Chew repeatedly tried to refute during the hearing.
Chew was persistently questioned about TikTok’s parent company ByteDance’s relationship with the Chinese government. When California Democrat Tony Cárdenas asked outright if “TikTok is a Chinese company,” Chew clarified that the app was headquartered in Singapore and Los Angeles and wasn’t available to users in China.
Republican Neal Dunn also highlighted a December report on ByteDance employees who had illegally obtained the user data of two journalists. When asked if the company has “spied on American citizens,” Chew responded that “spying is not the right way to describe it.”
These questions by US lawmakers were backed by the latest statement from Rob Joyce, the head of NSA’s cybersecurity wing. According to Bloomberg News, Joyce spoke at the Silverado Accelerator Conference and highlighted the importance of monitoring TikTok’s parent company ByteDance to deter an imminent security incident several years down the road.
“Why would you bring the Trojan horse inside the fortress?” said Joyce, speaking on how the Chinese could potentially “manipulate the data we see to either include the things they want to present” or “remove the things that paint them in a bad light.”
Apart from millions of TikTok influencers and businesses who depend on the short video-sharing platform for their livelihood, Congress also sees pushback from within. In her first ever TikTok video, Democrat Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez protested the ban, saying that her colleagues were “putting the cart before the horse.” AOC is among the handful of progressives who aren’t backing the rest of the Democrats over the bipartisan bill.