Chinese short-video app TikTok confirmed on November 4 that it would not send a representative to testify before a Senate panel slated to examine the internet company’s ties to the Chinese government.
Recently, the app developed by the Beijing-based ByteDance attracted growing scrutiny in overseas markets over content censorship and data protection procedures. The scrutiny is part of a wider dispute over perceived national security risks posed by Chinese tech companies.
TikTok said its US operation did not censor political content or take instructions from ByteDance and explained that no moderators for TikTok’s US platform were based in China. TikTok also said it plans to form a committee of outside experts to advise on content moderation and transparency. The company added that it will not accept political advertisements.
On Sunday night Sen. Josh Hawley posted on Twitter saying “I’ve invited Apple and TikTok to testify on Tuesday about their business in and with China and the risks to American consumers. So far, they are both refusing … Something to hide?”
TikTok responded saying “We appreciate Sen. Hawley’s invitation. Unfortunately, on short notice we were unable to provide a witness who would be able to contribute to a substantive discussion,” a TikTok spokesperson told The Verge.
Beijing’s potential influence over the app in the US has led the Treasury Department’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States to review the deal related to ByteDance’s acquisition of Musical.ly. Lawmakers have urged US officials to investigate what they called “a potential counterintelligence threat we cannot ignore.”