Congress Closes to TikTok Ban or Compulsory Sale After Troubled CEO Testimony: Gallagher

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew’s testimony last week “raised the possibility of some action” on the hugely popular and controversial social media app after his comments on Capitol Hill failed to assuage bipartisan concerns about potential data privacy issues and Chinese government intrusion. Rep. Mike Gallagher said Sunday.

“They’ve really united Republicans and Democrats [Chinese Communist Party] To control the most dominant media platform in the U.S., Martha Raddatz, co-host of TikTok, which has 150 million monthly active U.S. users, told ABC’s “This Week.”

Gallagher, R-Wisconsin, who chairs the House Select Committee on U.S. Competition with China, and his panel’s ranking member, Illinois Democrat Raja Krishnamurthy, have introduced legislation to force the app to be banned or sold from its Chinese parent to a U.S. company. The company is ByteDance.

Chinese officials have called such plans excessive and unfair — China heavily restricts internet use in its country — and said they oppose the sale. Critics of the study say it doesn’t apply to social media sites like this one.

But Gallagher and Krishnamurthy, appearing together on “This Week,” told Radatts that the risks warrant such moves.

Separately, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy tweeted on Sunday The room on Tiktok is “moving forward with the law.”

Krishnamurthy pointed to Siu’s inability to “acknowledge that there is a genocide going on in China’s northeastern corner of Xinjiang province involving the Uighur people” last year when some Byte Dance staffers “spyed” on American journalists. Again, bow to the pressure of this Chinese Communist Party,” he told Raddats.

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Even he and Gallagher were skeptical of the “Texas plan,” which TikTok says would store U.S. data in Texas and block Beijing’s access, but lawmakers say that’s not enough.

“Whistleblowers are coming forward to say that what the TikTok administration is telling about the Texas plan is a pack of lies,” Krishnamurthy said, while Gallagher said protections for Americans’ data were only part of a larger problem.

“The key piece missing from Texas’ project mitigation strategy is algorithmic control. That’s really what we need to address,” Gallagher said. “It’s not just about exfiltrating data from an American phone, they can push it through algorithms to Americans — to control our sense of reality, to control the news, to interfere in future elections.”

Xiu’s lengthy testimony before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on Thursday sought to assuage concerns that TikTok would be forced to hand over US users’ data if the Chinese government demanded it.

“I think a lot of the risks that have been pointed out are hypothetical and theoretical risks,” Chew asserted at one point. “I don’t see any evidence.”

He also pushed back against concerns that TikTok’s methodology could be used to sway public opinion, including pro-China content and election disinformation.

But lawmakers on the panel were unimpressed, with Committee Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., telling Chev, “Your site should be banned.”

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“I think it created a lot of concerns, very frankly,” Krishnamurthy told RadDats on Sunday of Thursday’s hearing. “I don’t think he did anything to help TikTok.”

Raddats emphasized Krishnamurthy’s response to the potential political fallout of the TikTok ban, depending on its popularity among younger people.

“I think good policy makes good politics,” he said. “In this particular case, TikTok is just another social media app, and we have a general concern about these social media apps, which is different from any other social media app because its parent company is the Chinese Communist Party.”

Beyond TikTok, Gallagher and Krishnamurthy, who sit on the House Intelligence Committee, were asked about last week’s raid on U.S. bases in Syria by RadDats, which killed a U.S. contractor and wounded several others, including service members and a contractor.

Iranian-backed militias are believed to be responsible, and the US has responded with airstrikes.

Gallagher said the attacks stemmed from “the crumbling of our deterrent posture against Iran” and added that “we cannot prevent another failure like we saw in Ukraine.”

“Some of the practical steps forward in my view are to re-impose the principle of maximum economic pressure, abandon the attempt to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. [the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal] And urge the Pentagon to provide” a report on US-Israeli cooperation in technology to enhance the capabilities of both countries, Gallagher said.

“We need to have a clear vision of the regime we are facing in Tehran,” he said.

Krishnamurthy said the US will not back down from the region and will continue its counter-terrorism operations there regardless of the risk.

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“[W]These are targets of opportunity for Iranian-backed militias. But we’re not going anywhere. We must stay in northern Syria and fight against ISIS alongside our allies in Iraq. [the Islamic State],” he said. “Unfortunately, we have to deal with them appropriately, but we’re not leaving that part of the world like we’re dealing with ISIS.”

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