GOP lawmaker to TikTok CEO: ‘You damn well know’ you can’t protect US users

Rep. Kat Cammack (R-Fla.)
Greg Nash
Rep. Kat Cammack (R-Fla.) is seen during the eighth ballot for Speaker on the third day of the 118th session of Congress on Thursday, January 5, 2023.

Rep. Kat Cammack (R-Fla.) slammed TikTok at a House committee hearing on the platform on Thursday, telling CEO Shou Zi Chew that “you damn well know” that the platform is unable to protect its U.S. users.

Cammack’s panning of the platform and Chew came after she had a video that had been posted on TikTok shown at the hearing. The video showed a gun firing with a caption saying “Me asf at the, House Energy and Commerce Committee on 03/23/2023.” 

Cammack said the video was posted 41 days ago, before the committee’s hearing on TikTok and data security on the platform was publicly announced. She said TikTok’s community guidelines state that the platform has a “firm stance against enabling violence on or off TikTok,” but the video has remained on the platform. 

Cammack argued that if the platform was unable to take the video down and ban the account, as the platform’s community guidelines said it would, it cannot protect the data security of its U.S. users. 

Chew later said during the hearing that he was briefed during a break that the platform took the post down after Cammack highlighted it.

Lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle have expressed concerns that the data the platform collects from the 150 million Americans who use it could be obtained by the Chinese government as ByteDance, a Chinese company, owns TikTok. 

Chew has insisted during the hearing — and as TikTok has maintained amid the controversy it has faced — that the platform is independent from the Chinese government and user data is not at risk of being obtained by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). 

“You couldn’t take action after 41 days when a clear threat, a very violent threat, to the chairwoman of this committee and the members of this committee was posted on your platform,” Cammack said. “You damn well know that you cannot protect the data and security of this committee of the 150 million users of your app because it is an extension of the CCP.”

–Updated at 12:24 p.m.

Tags ByteDance Chinese Communist Party data security Kat Cammack Kat Cammack Shou Chew Shou Zi Chew TikTok

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