U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said on Sunday that lawmakers will move forward with legislation to address national security concerns about TikTok, claiming that China’s government had access to the short video app’s user data.
In the United States, there is growing support for a ban on TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, or for bipartisan legislation to give President Joe Biden’s administration the legal authority to seek a ban. The app was recently banned from being installed on devices owned by the United States government.
“The House will be moving forward with legislation to protect Americans from the technological tentacles of the Chinese Communist Party,” McCarthy tweeted.
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testified in front of a U.S. House Committee on Thursday for about five hours, and lawmakers from both parties grilled him on national security and other issues concerning the app, which has 150 million American users.
During Thursday’s hearing, the TikTok CEO was asked if the app had spied on Americans at the request of Beijing. Chew replied, “No.”
Republican Representative Neal Dunn then brought up the company’s December disclosure that some Chinese employees at ByteDance had improperly accessed the TikTok user data of two journalists and were no longer employed by the company.
“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.” McCarthy, a Republican, said in a tweet on Sunday.
The company claims to have spent more than $1.5 billion on data security efforts under the guise of “Project Texas,” which currently employs nearly 1,500 full-time employees and has a contract with Oracle Corp. to store TikTok’s U.S. user data.