A new round of criticism of the popular global network for sharing content, TikTok, is being thrown by House Republicans.
They claim TikTok purposefully deceived Congress about how the company processed the data of its US-based consumers. In a letter to TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, the complainants emphasized the concerns that US legislators had before noted.
The letter also emphasized the risks TikTok presents to US national security. Having won the House of Representatives majority, analysts expect that Republican members of the House will reaffirm the demands to censure TikTok.
“Both claims appear to be misleading at best, and at worst, false,” said Comer and McMorris Rodgers.
“Americans deserve answers about how TikTok knowingly allows China to access their data. And E&C Republicans will continue to demand those answers,” said Sean Kelly, the spokesperson for Rodgers.
“One immediate next step is to pass the American Data Privacy and Protection Act this Congress. This would require companies like TikTok to alert users if their personal information is being stored or accessed in countries like China. And give people the option to stop sharing that information,” Kelly added.
The possibility that TikTok may exploit the user data from US users for their purposes is causing worry among US officials. For instance, Virginia Democratic Senator Mark Warner asserted TikTok constitutes an “enormous threat” due to its ability to collect data and affect the material that US users consume.
“That is a distribution model that would make RT, Sputnik. Or some Russian propaganda models pale in comparison,” Warner said.
TikTok dismisses the claims again
The charges brought against TikTok management have been refuted again and time again. The business further claimed that it will “satisfy all national security concern”. Also that ByteDance, its parent company does not have US data access. In front of the Senate, TikTok’s COO Vanessa Pappas appeared and responded to the senators’ inquiries.
“Will TikTok commit to cutting off all data and data flows to China, China-based TikTok employees, ByteDance employees, or any other party in China that might have the capability to access information on US users?” asked Senator Rob Portman.
“Again, we take this incredibly seriously in terms of upholding trust with US citizens and ensuring the safety of US user data,” Pappas said.
“As it relates to access and controls, we will be going above and beyond in leading initiative efforts with our partner, Oracle. And also to the satisfaction of the US government through our work with [the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States], which we hope to share more information on,” she added.
To cut China from the data
Pappas assured the Senate panel that Chinese authorities do not affect US users’ content algorithms. She also promised that TikTok will stop “all data and metadata flows to China” in response to criticism. Pappas said that she would not “give that data to China”. This is despite Chinese staff having access to the information. She also contested the idea that there was a “Master Admin” who had access US customers data.
“There was talk [in the article] of a master account, which does not exist at our company,” she said.