Two American senators announced on Tuesday that they are looking into the decision made by the short video platform TikTok to hire top executives from its Chinese parent company, ByteDance.
Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal and Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn wrote a letter to TikTok’s CEO Shou Zi Chew expressing concern over recent hirings that raise doubts about the company’s independence and the security of its American users’ data.
The senators expressed concern that TikTok’s personnel changes suggest an attempt to maintain ByteDance’s control over the app without raising suspicion. They requested a thorough explanation of the security measures in place for Chinese ByteDance employees who relocate to the US.
TikTok expressed its willingness to share information with senators regarding its employment procedures. According to a spokesperson, it is common for employees in a large, international company to work on various products or locations throughout their career.
TikTok has over 150 million users in the United States and has been the subject of demands from US legislators to ban the app nationwide due to concerns about potential interference from the Chinese government.
Attempts to grant the Biden administration additional authority to prohibit TikTok have hit a roadblock in Congress.
Senator Maria Cantwell has collaborated with the White House and fellow legislators to develop a modified legislation that aims to tackle issues surrounding TikTok and other apps owned by foreign entities.
Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican, attempted to gain unanimous consent in May to pass a bill that would ban TikTok. He intends to bring the issue to a vote later this year.
Last month, he informed Reuters that it is necessary to revisit the issue and take measures to prohibit it. He also mentioned that TikTok has hired an overwhelming number of lobbyists who constantly influence decision-making and have hindered any advancement in this matter.
In 2020, former President Donald Trump attempted to prevent new downloads of the Chinese-owned apps TikTok and WeChat, which is owned by Tencent 0700.HK. However, multiple court rulings prevented the bans from being enforced.
TikTok is currently opposing a ban set by the state of Montana, which is planned to go into action on January 1st. A hearing has been scheduled for October 12th regarding TikTok’s lawsuit.