Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) has called for TikTok’s CEO to be charged with lying to Congress.
- TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew was questioned before Congress on March 23 regarding his company’s access to data and how the Chinese government has access to it.
- On Thursday, Senator Rubio sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland asking the Justice Department to open an investigation into whether CEO Chew committed perjury in his testimony.
- Chew claims that data “has always been stored in Virginia and in Singapore.”
- Subsequent Forbes reports have shown that this is not true, as U.S. tax IDs and social security numbers have been found on Chinese services.
- Rubio says Chew “should be held accountable for making false statements about material facts related to TikTok’s operation.”
Why It’s News
The Beijing-based ByteDance owns TikTok, and numerous allegations have suggested that the popular app with 150 million U.S. users is illegally harvesting sensitive data and information on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party. The company has also attempted to assuage U.S. concerns by building Project Texas and moving U.S. data services onto American soil and has repeatedly claimed that China has no access to U.S. data.
TikTok faces numerous lawsuits and legal challenges, with dozens of hawkish U.S. politicians arguing that the app presents a national-security threat. The state of Montana made news last month as the first state in the U.S. to ban the TikTok app starting in January 2024, while Congress has made similar proposals at the national level. TikTok is currently in the process of suing the state for first amendment violations.
As we previously reported, psychologists view TikTok as a dangerous app for vulnerable young people, allegedly contributing to widespread mental health crises among the younger generations.
“We now know that TikTok stored sensitive information about its American users in China—a fact that Chew denied under oath,” says Senator Rubio. “We now know those statements are false and that some sensitive data from American users was in fact stored in China, where, by law, that information could be accessed by the Chinese Communist Party … I therefore request that you investigate whether Chew committed perjury when he falsely stated that TikTok has not stored the user data of Americans in China.”