TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew will testify in March to US lawmakers in Washington where the Chinese social media app faces accusations that it is beholden to the Communist Party in Beijing.
TikTok, whose parent company ByteDance is Chinese, is fighting for its survival in the United States with rising calls from mainly Republican lawmakers that the company should be outright banned for its links to Beijing.
Chew will give testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on March 23 after Republicans recently took over as the majority in the US House of Representatives.
“TikTok has knowingly allowed the ability for the Chinese Communist Party to access American user data,” US representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who heads the committee, said in a statement on Monday.
“Americans deserve to know how these actions impact their privacy and data security, as well as what actions TikTok is taking to keep our kids safe from online and offline harms,” she added.
Democrats have increasingly joined the groundswell of criticism against TikTok, and last month US President Joe Biden signed a law that bans the use of TikTok on government-issued devices.
This followed dozens of similar bans by US state governments and has put TikTok’s ability to remain a dominant tech player in the United States into sudden doubt.
To strengthen its position, TikTok for months held confidential talks with the US government to find a long-term arrangement that would satisfy any national security concerns.
A tentative proposal struck in August included direct oversight of TikTok USA by government officials and third-party companies.
But this arrangement has been held up amid public criticism by FBI Director Christopher Wray who said he continues to see TikTok as a threat.
“138 million users in America use TikTok on a regular basis, average about 90 minutes a day,” said US Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat who co-heads the Senate’s Intelligence Committee.
“I’m not saying that the Communist party is driving the videos you see, but the fact is the algorithms that determine what you see on TikTok are determined out of Beijing by China,” he added, speaking to CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday.