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Republican U.S. lawmaker meets with TikTok, but unpersuaded

2023-02-02T01:28:30Z

TikTok app is seen on a smartphone in this illustration taken, July 13, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

U.S. Republican Representative Mike Gallagher met with TikTok on Wednesday about the Chinese-owned short video app’s U.S. data security plans but still plans to seek to ban TikTok in the United States, a spokesperson for the lawmaker said.

Gallagher, the Republican chair of a U.S. House of Representatives select committee on China, met with Will Farrell, interim security officer at TikTok U.S Data Security (USDS).

The lawmaker “appreciated their time but found their argument unpersuasive,” Gallagher spokesperson Jordan Dunn said.

Gallagher “still plans to introduce his legislation with Rep. (Raja) Krishnamoorthi in the coming weeks,” Dunn said.

TikTok’s presentation “Protecting U.S. National Security Interests” – which has been viewed by Reuters – offers a detailed look at the app’s efforts to demonstrate the data security for TikTok’s more than 100 million U.S. users.

TikTok did not immediately comment on the meeting with Gallagher.

The U.S. government’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a powerful national security body, in 2020 ordered Chinese company ByteDance to divest TikTok because of fears that user data could be passed onto China’s government.

CFIUS and TikTok have been in talks for more than two years aiming to reach a national security agreement.

Reuters first reported in December that TikTok had adopted several measures aimed at addressing U.S. government concerns, including an agreement for Oracle Corp (ORCL.N) to store data of the app’s U.S. users and a United States Data Security division to oversee data protection and content moderation decisions.

TikTok has spent $1.5 billion on hiring and reorganization costs to build up the Data Security unit, Reuters also reported.

TikTok personnel in the unit will be vetted and the company governed by an independent board and its content systems overseen by CFIUS-approved third parties, the presentation said.

For three years, TikTok has been seeking to assure Washington that the personal data of U.S. citizens cannot be accessed and its content cannot be manipulated by China’s Communist Party or anyone else under Beijing’s influence.

On Monday, the company confirmed TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew will appear before the U.S. Energy and Commerce Committee on March 23.

TikTok said on Monday it hopes “by sharing details of our comprehensive plans with the full committee, Congress can take a more deliberative approach to the issues at hand.”

The House Foreign Affairs Committee plans to hold a vote this month on a bill aimed at blocking the use of TikTok in the United States.