TikTok, a short-video app that is owned by China’s ByteDance declined the invitation to the congressional hearing in the US which is scheduled for 5 November 2019. The hearing is organized by the Republican Senate Josh Hawley and issues regarding the security of the US citizens through such technology will be addressed thoroughly. But the refusal of TikTok to attend the summit leads the lawmakers of the US to question more about its ties with China. Moreover, with the national security review of TikTok still under investigation, this move might just end-up backfiring on them.
Before, TikTok has pledged that they have not compromised with any of the US citizen’s privacy to the Chinese Government and also stated that the US citizen’s data is stored in the United States only.
In the confirmation of the above when TikTok was requested to comment on their refusal for testifying in the summit, a ByteDance spokeswoman said that to the media, “We appreciate Sen. Hawley’s invitation. Unfortunately, on short notice, we were unable to provide a witness, who would be able to contribute to a substantive discussion.”
Besides she also emphasized that “We remain committed to working productively with Congress as it looks at how to secure the data of American users, protect their privacy, promote free expression, ensure competition and choice among internet platforms, and preserve U.S. national security interests.”
Senator Hawley after the TikTok confirmed their rejection, tweets that “I’ve invited Apple and TikTok [US] to testify on Tuesday about their business in and with China and the risks to American consumers. So far, they are both refusing. Something to hide? ”.
The investigation of the TikTok by the Committee on Foreign Investment of the United States is still hot on the news and now with the new woes added to the layer, will TikTok be able to escape from the tail of the US lawmakers as they strive to find out any controversial actions of TikTok?
With two senior US politicians even labeling TikTok in their open letter as “a potential counterintelligence threat we cannot ignore,” this hurdle might be a bit difficult for TikTok to cross so easily.
Peter Beaumont is a senior reporter on the Guardian’s Global Development desk. He has reported extensively from conflict zones including Africa, the Balkans and the Middle East and is the author of The Secret Life of War: Journeys Through Modern Conflict. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org