Rodgers, Comer Press TikTok on Data Sharing Practices with Communist China

Details TikTok Provided in a Committee Staff Briefing Appear to be Untrue or Misleading  

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Committee on Oversight and Reform Ranking Member James Comer (R-KY) are raising concerns TikTok provided misleading or false information to the committees about its data sharing and privacy practices with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). In a letter to Shou Zi Chew, Chief Executive Officer of TikTok, the Republican lawmakers renew their request for all information about TikTok’s organizational structure and data sharing practices and also notify the social media company to preserve all e-mail, electronic records, and communications.  

“On July 14, 2022, we wrote to you requesting documents and information regarding TikTok’s organizational structure and its data sharing and privacy practices relating to China. On July 28, 2022, you responded and on September 7, 2022, your staff provided a bipartisan briefing. However, we still have unanswered questions and you failed to provide responsive documents requested by the Committee. Additionally, some of the information TikTok provided during the staff briefing appears to be untrue or misleading, including that TikTok does not track U.S. user locations,” wrote the Republican lawmakers. “The information being withheld is especially relevant considering recent New York Times reporting suggesting TikTok and the Biden Administration may be close to an agreement to allow TikTok to remain operational in the U.S. without any major changes to its corporate structure.” 

“According to reports, the Biden Administration and TikTok have been negotiating a deal to allow TikTok to remain in operation in the United States. The two sides reportedly came to terms on the foundation of an agreement that includes changes to TikTok’s data security and governance without requiring China-based ByteDance to relinquish its authority over the social media app. Reports indicate TikTok is actively imbedding trackers across the internet to gather Americans’ search data and using the app to track specific location data of designated targets.   

“It appears that during the September 7, 2022, briefing by TikTok, the company shared potentially false or misleading information with bipartisan Committee staff. During the briefing, TikTok told staff that: (1) TikTok does not track users’ internet data while not using the application; and (2) that China-based employees do not have access to U.S. users’ location specific data. Both claims appear to be misleading at best, and at worst, false,” continued the Republican lawmakers. “It is unclear if this plan included tracking U.S. government officials, journalists, or other public figures. If true, these reports are deeply concerning and provide significant evidence that TikTok may have made misleading statements during its briefing with bipartisan Committee staff.”  

Read the letter to TikTok CEO Chew HERE.