Politics & Protests

TikTok ban seems more likely after this week’s Congressional hearing

“Your platform should be banned,” Chair Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-WA) said in her opening statement to Thursday’s hearing on TikTok before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “I expect today you’ll say anything to avoid this outcome.”

That set the tone for a contentious hearing where both Republican and Democratic lawmakers attacked TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, who, after his opening remarks, was given few chances to defend the platform.

The Biden administration and lawmakers have called TikTok a “tool” of the Chinese government citing concerns about data sharing and the app’s effect on the mental health of children and teens.

“TikTok has never shared, or received a request to share, US user data with the Chinese government. Nor would TikTok honor such a request if one were ever made,” argued Chew. “I have not seen any evidence. I am eagerly awaiting discussions where we can talk about evidence, and then we can address the concerns that are being raised.”

The TikTok CEO also argued that data privacy concerns should not be restricted to TikTok: “American social companies don’t have a good track record with data privacy and user security. Just look at Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, for one example.”

His arguments appeared to leave most Representatives in the hearing unmoved.

Some lawmakers oppose a ban

There is a small but growing group of House Democrats that oppose a ban. Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) held a press conference this week surrounded by 30 TikTok influencers calling for Congress to #KeepTikTok.

“Usually, if there’s a matter of national security concern, they hold a bipartisan Congressional briefing on that particular issue,” said Bowman. “We have not received a bipartisan Congressional briefing on the national security risk of TikTok.”

Some analysts also believe that the US does not have the authority to ban TokTik or to force a sale, while others point to freedom of speech concerns.

But while far from inevitable, a U.S. band of TikTok seems more likely than ever.

Bruce Houghton is the Founder and Editor of Hypebot and MusicThinkTank, a Senior Advisor at Bandsintown, President of the Skyline Artists Agency, and a professor for the Berklee College Of Music.

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