The chairwoman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee opened a hearing featuring the CEO of TikTok by telling him that “your platform should be banned.”
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) said that “banning your platform will address the immediate threats,” as lawmakers of both parties have singled out the Chinese-owned platform as a danger to national security and privacy.
She said, “To the American people watching today, hear this: TikTok is a weapon by the Chinese Communist party to spy on you, manipulate what you see and exploit for future generations.”
The top Democrat on the committee. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), was less direct, but said that he agreed with much of what Rodgers said.
Shou Chew, the company’s CEO, is planning to tell lawmakers that safeguards are in place to prevent user data from being accessed by Chinese authorities. He said that they have been establishing a “firewall,” called Project Texas, to prevent unauthorized access to data, with Oracle storing the data in the U.S. He said all data will be under “the protection of U.S. law and under the control of the U.S.-led security team.”
He also outlined measures the company has taken to protect teenagers. The platform has more than one billion monthly active users, including more than 150 million in the United States.
But it was clear early on in the hearing that lawmakers found those measures insufficient. McMorris Rodgers challenged Chew’s assertion that TikTok parent ByteDance is not under the control of the Chinese Communist party.
The Biden administration reportedly is insisting that TikTok parent ByteDance divest the platform or face a ban.
More to come.