House Speaker Kevin McCarthy says the time has come to put restrictions on TikTok.
“The House will be moving forward with legislation to protect Americans from the technological tentacles of the Chinese Communist Party,” the California Republican wrote on Twitter Sunday (March 26).
McCarthy’s comments came days after TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew spent hours testifying before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
As PYMNTS has written, there were a number of tense exchanges during the hearing on different issues, including TikTok’s connection to China and the measures taken to safeguard the 150 million Americans using the app.
Chew faced a series of questions from members who said they were apprehensive about protecting Americans’ data privacy, protecting children’s online safety and TikTok’s potential association with the Chinese Communist Party.
“It’s very concerning that the CEO of TikTok can’t be honest and admit what we already know to be true — China has access to TikTok user data,” McCarthy said.
During the hearing, Rep. Neal Dunn, R-Fla., referred to information TikTok revealed last year that some employees at TikTok parent ByteDance had improper access to TikTok user data. Dunn asked if that meant ByteDance was spying.
“I don’t think that spying is the right way to describe it,” Chew said.
It’s still not certain if the U.S. will ban TikTok completely. While both parties have expressed support for some sort of action involving the company, Democrats in Congress have stopped short of supporting a ban.
The Biden administration has threatened a possible national ban on TikTok if its owners don’t sell or divest their stakes in the social platform.
TikTok has repeatedly stressed that forced sale wouldn’t properly address what it calls a perceived security risk. The company has also pledged $1.5 billion to safeguard U.S. user data from Beijing.
If a ban did happen, the consequences “would go beyond the disappearance of the popular doom scrolling app,” PYMNTS wrote last week. “It would have a considerable impact on brands, retailers and influencers who have come to depend on the platform to generate sales.”
It’s not just that brands and retailers would lose their established presence on a very popular platform, as many companies have invested time and resources in crafting TikTok content to reach younger consumers and fuel engagement.
“They would lose a connection that TikTok has built a following on — authenticity,” we wrote.
“Content that thrives on TikTok tends to lack production and has a way of making viewers feel as if the person they are watching is in the same room, a dynamic brands and retailers find valuable. Moreover, a ban on TikTok would drastically change the influencer marketing game, as many brands today partner with popular creators to promote their products.”