Pressure from the Senate is mounting on TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew to answer allegations that his China-founded app stored American data in the communist country.
Sens. Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut Democrat, and Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee Republican, are demanding Mr. Chew explain reports about TikTok data allegedly stored and accessible in China despite his contradictory testimony to the House earlier this year.
The bipartisan duo’s letter comes after Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, asked the Department of Justice last week to investigate whether Mr. Chew perjured himself for allegedly misleading Congress about the data storage.
“We are disturbed by TikTok’s pattern of misleading or inaccurate responses regarding serious matters related to users’ safety and national security, and request that TikTok correct and explain its previous, incorrect claims,” Mr. Blumenthal and Ms. Blackburn wrote to Mr. Chew on Tuesday.
The senators’ letter cited concerns about reports suggesting American TikTok creators’ Social Security and tax information was stored in China and that TikTok employees shared Americans’ personally identifiable information on an internal messaging tool. ByteDance, TikTok’s China-founded parent company, made the internal messaging tool.
The senators said the reports contradict Mr. Chew’s testimony to the House Energy and Commerce Committee in March, particularly regarding his comments about U.S. data being stored in Virginia and Singapore.
TikTok said it is not sweating the pressure from Capitol Hill.
“We are reviewing the letter,” TikTok spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter said in a statement. “We remain confident in the accuracy of our testimony and responses to Congress.”
The questions about the accuracy of the TikTok CEO’s congressional testimony escalate tension between the company and lawmakers, who are reviewing legislation to enable the banning of the app in the U.S.
Policymakers have concerns that China’s policies of military-civil fusion forcing cooperation between businesses and the government put Americans’ data at risk of falling into the hands of the Chinese government.
President Biden has not made a formal, final decision about a broad ban on TikTok. In recent months, a growing number of Biden administration cybersecurity officials have raised concerns about the platform, including the leaders of the National Security Agency and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.