But will he kick things off with a viral dance routine?
With mounting calls from U.S. lawmakers to ban TikTok due to national security concerns, the app’s CEO Shou Zi Chew is traveling to Capitol Hill on March 23 to testify in front of members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
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In advance of the testimony, Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Washington) stated lawmakers’ concerns: “ByteDance-owned TikTok has knowingly allowed the ability for the Chinese Communist Party to access American user data.” Rodgers continued, “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 company fired back at Rodgers, releasing a statement that read in part, “There is no truth to Rep. McMorris Rodgers’ claim that TikTok has made U.S. user data available to the Chinese Communist Party,” adding, “The Chinese Communist Party has neither direct nor indirect control of ByteDance or TikTok.”
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This past December, U.S. lawmakers passed a bipartisan bill that included a provision banning the use of TikTok on government-owned devices (excluding its use for law enforcement or national security purposes). That followed a warning from FBI Director Christopher Wray to members of the House Homeland Security Committee in November. “We do have national security concerns at least from the FBI’s end about TikTok,” Wray explained. “They include the possibility that the Chinese government could use it to control data collection on millions of users. Or control the recommendation algorithm, which could be used for influence operations if they so chose. Or to control software on millions of devices, which gives it an opportunity to potentially technically compromise personal devices.”
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Buzz News released a bombshell report in June analyzing leaked audio clips from internal TikTok meetings. In the clips, Buzzfeed reported that employees of ByteDance repeatedly spoke of accessing nonpublic data about U.S. TikTok users and referred to one Chinese engineer called “Master Admin” who “has access to everything.”
But this could all be a lot of hoopla about nothing, right? We mean, TikTok is so fun! Anybody want to watch a video of a chipmunk that looks like it’s bobbing its head to Migos?