US House speaker says lawmakers to move forward with TikTok bill
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[March 27, 2023]
By Kanishka Singh and Leah Douglas
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Kevin
McCarthy said on Sunday lawmakers will move forward with legislation to
address national security worries about TikTok, alleging China's
government had access to the short video app's user data.
In the United States, there are growing calls to ban TikTok, owned by
China-based company ByteDance, or to pass bipartisan legislation to give
President Joe Biden's administration legal authority to seek a ban.
Devices owned by the U.S. government were recently banned from having
the app installed.
"The House will be moving forward with legislation to protect Americans
from the technological tentacles of the Chinese Communist Party,"
McCarthy said on Twitter.
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew appeared before a U.S. House Committee for about
five hours on Thursday, and lawmakers from both parties grilled him
about national security and other concerns involving the app, which has
150 million American users.
In Thursday's hearing, the TikTok CEO was asked if of the app, has spied
on Americans at Beijing's request. Chew answered, "No."
Republican Representative Neal Dunn then referenced the company's
disclosure in December that some China-based employees at ByteDance
improperly accessed TikTok user data of two journalists and were no
longer employed by the company. He repeated his question about whether
ByteDance was spying.
"I don't think that spying is the right way to describe it," Chew said.
He went on to describe the reports as involving an "internal
investigation" before being cut off.
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TikTok Chief Executive Shou Zi Chew
testifies before a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing
entitled "TikTok: How Congress can Safeguard American Data Privacy
and Protect Children from Online Harms," as lawmakers scrutinize the
Chinese-owned video-sharing app, on Capitol Hill in Washington,
U.S., March 23, 2023. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein
McCarthy, a Republican, said in a tweet on Sunday, "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 company says it has spent more than $1.5 billion on data
security efforts under the name "Project Texas" which currently has
nearly 1,500 full-time employees and is contracted with Oracle Corp
to store TikTok’s U.S. user data.
Rather than appease lawmakers' concerns, Chew's appearance before
Congress on Thursday "actually increased the likelihood that
Congress will take some action," Representative Mike Gallagher of
Wisconsin, the Republican chairman of the House Select Committee on
the Chinese Communist Party, told ABC News on Sunday.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump lost a series of court rulings in
2020 when he sought to ban TikTok and another Chinese-owned app,
WeChat, a unit of Tencent.
Many Democrats also have raised concerns although have not yet
explicitly backed a U.S. ban.
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington, additional reporting by
Leah Douglas; Editing by Scott Malone and Cynthia Osterman)
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