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US House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy has announced that lawmakers will push forward with legislation to protect Americans from the “technological tentacles” of the Chinese Communist Party. McCarthy made the announcement amidst growing calls in the US to ban TikTok, which is owned by China-based company ByteDance. He expressed concern that the TikTok CEO could not be honest about whether China has access to TikTok user data.
During a hearing before the US House Energy and Commerce Committee, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew faced hostile questioning from lawmakers about potential Chinese government influence over the company. US Lawmaker Debbie Lesko pointed out that India and other countries have banned TikTok in some form, and questioned how all of these countries and the FBI director could be wrong about the national security concerns associated with TikTok.
In response, Shou Zi Chew stated that the risks posed were hypothetical and theoretical and that he had not seen any evidence. However, lawmakers continued to express their concerns, with one from Florida accusing TikTok of being “an extension of the CCP” and another from New Jersey stating that he did not believe TikTok’s security plans would work.
The White House has also expressed concern over China’s potential use of software platforms that could threaten America’s safety and national security. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has called on Congress to take action and highlighted a bipartisan piece of legislation that aims to protect national security.