After lawmakers on both sides of the aisle spent hours grilling the CEO of TikTok last week, one prominent Democrat shared her belief that the Chinese-owned social media platform should not be banned.
Critics have expressed concerns that the app stores identifying data that it then shares with China’s communist government — and CEO Shou Zi Chew’s testimony on Capitol Hill did not appear to assuage those bipartisan fears.
Failing to convince legislators that TikTok does not pose serious national security threats to the United States, House Select Committee on China chair Mike Gallagher (R-WI) concluded: “I think this actually increases the likelihood that Congress will take some action.”
Similarly, the panel’s top Democrat, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois, determined that the executive’s remarks “created more concerns, quite frankly.”
For her part, however, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) does not appear to have any misgivings about how China potentially uses data collected via the app. Instead, she recommended treating the company like any of its other tech-industry peers.
In a video recently uploaded to the platform, she began: “Do I believe TikTok should be banned? No.”
Banning TikTok isn’t the solution to data privacy concerns. Instead, Congress needs to focus on regulating social media companies’ unchecked habit of collecting user data without their consent. pic.twitter.com/DASSeTeMCT
— Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@RepAOC) March 25, 2023
The New York Democrat’s solution involves limiting the amount of data harvested by various tech companies, which is an idea that has broad bipartisan control. Nevertheless, she ignored the unique concerns related to TikTok’s ties with the Chinese government.
“They say because of this egregious amount of data harvesting, we should ban this app; however, that doesn’t really address the core of the issue,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
Calling out other social media platforms that compile “troves of deeply personal data,” she shared her belief that “the solution here is not to ban an individual company but to actually protect Americans from this kind of egregious data harvesting that companies can do without your significant ability to say no.”
Using the fact that “this is an app that has over 150 million Americans on it” as a reason against banning TikTok, she maintained that if lawmakers really considered the platform to be a bigger threat than other companies then they should have conducted a classified briefing on the matter.
“So why would we be proposing a ban regarding such a significant issue without being clued in on this at all?” Ocasio-Cortez asked. “It just doesn’t feel right to me.”
Although Congress did not receive a classified briefing on the perceived threats posed by TikTok, lawmakers made their concerns clear during last week’s hearing.
“TikTok has repeatedly chosen a path for more control, more surveillance, and more manipulation,” House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) said. “Your platform should be banned.”