(WASHINGTON) — A high-stakes standoff between the U.S. government and social media app TikTok over a potential ban is set for a reckoning on Thursday when TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testifies before a committee of House lawmakers.
The China-based app, which counts more than 150 million U.S. users each month, has faced growing scrutiny from government officials over fears that user data could fall into the possession of the Chinese government and the app could be weaponized by China to spread misinformation.
There is no evidence that TikTok has shared U.S. user data with the Chinese government, but policymakers fear that the Chinese government could compel the company to do so.
Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:
Mar 23, 9:53 AM EDT
TikTok CEO will likely face opposition from lawmakers
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew will likely encounter sharp criticism from some members of the Republican-led House committee, which oversees energy and commerce.
A number of Republican members of Congress have backed a ban of the app.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee, a separate body, voted earlier this month to approve a bill that would give Biden the authority to ban TikTok.
The Biden administration this month endorsed a different bipartisan bill, which does not specifically target TikTok but empowers the federal government to ban electronics or software with foreign ties, such as TikTok.
Stiffening its stance further, the Biden administration last week demanded that TikTok’s owner, ByteDance, sell its stake in the app or risk getting banned, the company and a U.S. official previously told ABC News.
Mar 23, 9:39 AM EDT
TikTok CEO expected to directly confront possible ban
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew will address a potential ban, outlining how such a measure would ultimately harm the U.S. economy, according to his prepared remarks posted on the House committee’s website.
TikTok hosts accounts for 5,000 U.S.-based businesses and employs 7,000 workers across the country, Chew said in a video posted on Tuesday.
“We do not believe that a ban that hurts American small businesses, damages the country’s economy, silences the voices of over 150 million Americans, and reduces competition in an increasingly concentrated market is the solution to a solvable problem,” his prepared remarks say.
Chew plans to tout Project Texas, an ongoing effort that he says keeps all data on U.S. users within the country through a partnership with Austin, Texas-based cloud computing company Oracle.
“Bans are only appropriate when there are no alternatives. But we do have an alternative,” Chew will say.
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