TikTok users protest proposals for US ban at Congress

WASHINGTON: A group of TikTok content creators descended on the US Capitol to protest against calls for a ban on the popular Chinese-owned video-sharing app, amid fears that it presents a national security threat.

Lawmakers and government officials have complained that TikTok’s parent company ByteDance is able to pass users’ data to the government in Beijing and are calling for it to be removed from app stores unless it is sold to a US firm.

Supporters argue that the platform is no more prone to data breaches than any other apps that collect personal information and that lawmakers should be working to firm up privacy laws rather than spoiling their fun.

A group of around a dozen teenagers, teachers and business owners rallied at Congress to discuss their opposition to a potential ban and draw attention to the benefits of TikTok on their lives and livelihoods.

Some in the crowd said they had been flown to Washington by the company, US media reported.

“I kind of built my business on TikTok, so this poses somewhat of a problem for me and my business,” aspiring soapmaking entrepreneur @countrylather2020 told her 70,000 followers in a video recorded after she arrived in the capital.

“Are there other platforms out there? Absolutely — I’m on them. But none of them have the reach that TikTok has.”

The app — which recently revealed it has 150 million US users — is already outlawed on all federal and some state government devices and is blocked by several public universities, but lawmakers and President Joe Biden are weighing a total ban.

The company’s CEO Shou Zi Chew is due to testify in Congress on Thursday, where he is expected to tell the House Energy and Commerce Committee: “ByteDance is not an agent of China or any other country.”

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