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TikTok CEO to testify before Congress on privacy, national security, and child exploitation

TikTok Chief Executive Shou Zi Chew will testify before the U.S. Energy and Commerce Committee in March, Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) said Monday, as the social media app faces heightened scrutiny among lawmakers over privacy and national security concerns.


  • Chew will testify before the committee on March 23 about the platform’s effect on children and its relationship with the Chinese government, Rodgers said.
  • “ByteDance-owned TikTok has knowingly allowed the ability for the Chinese Communist Party to access American user data,” Rodgers said in a statement, referring to revelations that the company used the app to spy on journalists, including some from Forbes, and planned to monitor the locations of some American citizens.
  • Rodgers, along with a coalition of House Republicans, requested a meeting with TikTok brass in a November letter to Chew that cited a Forbes report detailing the sexual exploitation of children on TikTok.
  • Lawmakers have moved to limit the app from abusing its access to users’ personal information: The Biden Administration in December signed legislation banning federal employees from using the app on government-owned devices, Congress is mulling a nationwide ban on the app, and the White House is negotiating a deal with the company aimed at curtailing the Chinese government’s influence on its operations in the U.S.
  • TikTok on Friday criticized proposals for bans on the app, calling them “a piecemeal approach to national security,” the company said in a statement.


TikTok has come under heightened scrutiny following a series of media reports revealing how the company can track users’ locations and even their keystrokes, a function that could expose users’ login credentials or sensitive personal information, such as credit card numbers and passwords. The company has also faced criticism for failing to prevent child exploitation on the app–Forbes reported in November that abusers can easily evade TikTok security to lure underage victims and post illicit child sexual abuse content. In addition, links between TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, and the Chinese government have raised national security concerns regarding the potential for Beijing to force TikTok to provide data on its users.


More than half of U.S. states have banned employees from using the app on government devices, and several colleges have also blocked students from accessing the app via campus WiFi.


Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) called on the Office of Management and Budget, which is responsible for enforcing the TikTok ban on federally owned devices, to disclose how it is working to implement the block by the February 27 deadline set by the legislation. Hawley said he has “yet to see any signs of progress . . . in developing these standards.” Hawley also introduced legislation earlier this month that would ban all transactions with TikTok parent company, ByteDance, and require the Director of National Intelligence to monitor and report how the Chinese government uses the app to “monitor or manipulate Americans.” Separately, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) sponsored a similar bill during the previous session of Congress that would effectively ban TikTok in the U.S. and authored an op-ed in the Washington Post, along with Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), that cited a Forbes article revealing 23 ByteDance directors previously worked for Chinese state media.


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