Transcript for Lawmakers skeptical about TikTok CEO’s responses on safety, spying concerns
- And ABC's contributor, Sirius XM radio host, and Google Tech Policy Fellow Mike Muse joins me now with more on this. Mike, great to have you on. I want to--
- Thank you Diane
- --take a step back, and I want you to explain this like we're five. How could TikTok jeopardize our national security?
- That's a really great question. I'm so glad that you asked that. And I don't believe that Congress is doing a good job of explaining why they're having their hearings, and particularly from that package that we just saw from Rachel Scott, where a lot of TikTok users were talking about data. And they were saying that data, that's a concern. Twitter has that. Meta has that too, as well.
The difference, Diane, which is really important to note, is that ByteDance, parent company, they say they're independent. But we all know that it's owned by the Chinese government, to which the Chinese government issued a statement yesterday afternoon and said that under no condition would they allow TikTok to be sold, which gives you the answer that we're all looking for, of how much control China has over ByteDance, i.e. TikTok. Therefore, there could be a moment where over 150 million American users' data, TikTok could be compelled or demanded by the Chinese government to turn over that data to the Chinese government.
And so as a result, China could have large shares of American sensitive data that they can use to manipulate in any way. Also, too, as well, in terms of content moderation, they could use it as a tool for propaganda in order to support whatever messaging the government of China has. And so that's what makes this so different in the use of data. It's a national security issue. And I don't know if Congress is doing a good job of really highlighting that.
- And Mike, I want to drill down on a point you made because we heard in the hearing yesterday, the CEO of TikTok say over and over again, we are a private company, we are a private company, trying to emphasize that they are not controlled by or linked to the Chinese government. And now we're hearing from the Chinese government, under no condition will we allow TikTok to be sold. How do you reconcile those two things?
- Diane, that's such a great question that you ask. I mean, we saw it play out in real. time. In the morning, the CEO was saying, we're private. They had no interference. He was trying to assuage the elected officials that they have nothing to be concerned about. They've never seen any indication as, nor would they ever turn it over.
But then around the afternoon, the Minister of Commerce of China issued a statement and said, under no condition. That right there, in real time, showed Congress that TikTok isn't this independent company that they are claiming to be, which undermines everything that CEO said during that over five-hour investigative hearing that we saw yesterday.
- And Mike, I'm out of time, but really quickly, any other options here for the US government besides an outright ban in the US?
- No, Diane, because of the fact of the way the Chinese government issued that statement, the only thing now that the administration could do is work with Congress in order to work collectively to issue a ban outright. And so as a result of that statement, the options have become extremely limited for Congress and for this administration.
- All right. Mike Muse. Always great to have you, Mike. Thank you.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.