US House Republicans hit TikTok over Chinese data sharing


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican members of Congress, who will set the agenda for the House next year, pushed a short video app on TikTok on Tuesday about concerns the company may have misled Congress about how much user data it shares with China, where owner ByteDance is head office.

Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Representative James Comer, top Republican on the Oversight Committee, wrote to TikTok to say that information in a staff briefing appeared to be incorrect.

“Some of the information TikTok provided at the staff briefing appears to be untrue or misleading, including the fact that TikTok does not track users’ locations in the US,” Republican lawmakers said in a letter to TikTok chief executive Shou. Zi Chew from Tuesday.

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TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

After electoral victories earlier this month, Republicans will take control of the House in January. The letter could be a sign of strict scrutiny they plan to apply to Chinese companies, including TikTok, a target of former President Donald Trump’s Republican administration.

But the Democratic Biden administration has also expressed concern about TikTok. FBI Director Christopher Wray said earlier this month that the Chinese government could use the video-sharing app to influence users or control their devices.

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Among other things, the lawmakers asked TikTok to provide drafts of any agreement being negotiated with the Biden administration to allow TikTok to continue operating in the United States.

The US government’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which assesses US acquisitions by foreign companies for potential national security risks, ordered ByteDance to divest TikTok in 2020 over fears that US user data could be passed on to the Chinese communist government.

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CFIUS and TikTok have been in talks for months to reach a national security agreement to protect the data of TikTok’s more than 100 million users.

President Joe Biden in June 2021 rescinded a series of executive orders from Trump that sought to ban new downloads of TikTok and ordered the Department of Commerce to investigate the apps’ security vulnerabilities.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz; editing by Alexandra Alper and Lincoln Feast)


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