TikTok collects a lot of data. But that’s not the main reason officials say it’s a security risk
(CNN) After TikTok CEO Shou Chew testified for more than five hours on Thursday before a Congressional committee, one thing was clear: US lawmakers remain convinced that TikTok is an urgent threat to national security.
The hearing, Chew’s first appearance before Congress, kicked off with a lawmaker calling for TikTok to be banned and remained combative throughout. A number of lawmakers expressed deep skepticism about TikTok’s efforts to safeguard US user data and ease concerns about its ties to China. Nothing Chew said appeared to move the needle.
The rhetoric inside and outside the hearing room highlighted the growing, bipartisan momentum for cracking down on the app in the United States. As the hearing was taking place, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said he supports legislation that would effectively ban TikTok; Secretary of State Antony Blinken said TikTok should be “ended one way or another,” and the Treasury Department issued a statement vowing to “safeguard national security,” without mentioning TikTok by name.
Concerns about TikTok’s connections to China have led governments worldwide to ban the app on official devices, and those fears have factored into the increasingly tense US-China relationship. But the remarks across the federal government on Thursday, combined with a prior threat from the Biden administration to impose a nationwide ban unless TikTok’s Chinese owners sell their stakes, shows that a complete ban of the hugely popular app very much remains a live possibility.