U.S. lawmakers continue to push for an investigation and accountability surrounding TikTok's collection of user data.
The latest call for accountability for the social media site comes from Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., both members of the Select Committee on Intelligence in a letter to Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan.
In the letter, the senators ask for an investigation to begin into TikTok's data collection practices at the behest of the Chinese Communist Party. ByteDance, a China-based company, must comply with China's rules related to data collection and privacy.
"In light of repeated misrepresentations by TikTok concerning its data security, data processing, and corporate governance practices, we urge you to act promptly on this matter," the letter reads.
Warner and Rubio cite repeated claims by ByteDance and TikTok executives that claim U.S. users have protection from any potential data collection in China. However, recent reports suggest otherwise. The senators also accuse multiple officials at TikTok of lying to Congress.
TikTok has asserted that it "has never shared U.S. user data with the Chinese government, nor would we if asked." TikTok also clarified that it would "gladly engage with lawmakers to set the record straight," regarding a recent report from BuzzFeed that revealed these potential breaches in U.S. user privacy.
"TikTok has consistently maintained that our engineers in locations outside of the U.S., including China, can be granted access to U.S. user data on an as-needed basis," under strict controls, TikTok added.
More recently, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr shared a letter with Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai and Apple CEO Tim Cook. The letter asked them to remove TikTok from its app stores over similar concerns regarding privacy and accused TikTok of multiple violations of both companies’ policies.
Founded in 2016, TikTok is a short-form video hosting service. Videos usually last from 15 seconds to 10 minutes and often include dancing, humor and stunts. TikTok in October 2020 surpassed 2 billion mobile downloads.