TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew said during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on Thursday that “spying” is not the right word for alleged Chinese surveillance of Americans using his company’s social media platform.
Rep. Neal Dunn (R-FL) asked Chew if TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, has spied on American citizens.
“I don’t think that ‘spying’ is the right way to describe it,” Chew said.
Dunn asked about a report that the FBI and Justice Department are investigating ByteDance after the company acknowledged firing four employees for using the controversial app to track the location of two journalists in the United States.
Breitbart News’s Lucas Nolan reported last week:
After ByteDance admitted that its employees had improperly accessed the data of U.S. users, congressional critics began to express concerns about TikTok’s surveillance practices. Forbes reports that the DOJ has served subpoenas to ByteDance. However, it’s still unclear how far the investigation into the incident has gone. The FBI has also interviewed people in connection with the matter, though it is not yet clear if these interviews are a part of the same investigation.
In a statement, a ByteDance spokesperson addressed the issue, stating, “We have strongly condemned the actions of the individuals found to have been involved, and they are no longer employed at ByteDance.” The spokesperson also confirmed that the company’s internal investigation is ongoing, and ByteDance is committed to cooperating with any official investigations when brought to them.
Concerns over the national security and privacy implications of TikTok have reached a fever pitch in Washington, DC as lawmakers have continued to consider if the legislative branch needs to pursue an outright ban of TikTok or privacy legislation to address the concerns surrounding the popular yet controversial app. Others have called for separating TikTok from ByteDance.
During the hearing, Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH) also slammed TikTok for hosting dangerous trends that have killed American teens and children:
As House lawmakers continued to question the TikTok CEO, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) called on lawmakers to stop using TikTok, describing it as one of the “biggest geopolitical threats America has ever faced.”