Executives at the overseas edition of TikTok have refused to testify at a Congressional hearing scheduled for Tuesday, a move that could worsen TikTok’s relationship with the U.S. government. TikTok’s parent company, Bytebeat, has faced national security scrutiny in its bid to buy Music.ly, a US social media app. The hearing, sponsored by Republican Senator Josh Hawley, discussed privacy and data security concerns.
As of Sunday local time, TikTok’s decision not to attend the hearing had been confirmed by a person familiar with the matter. TikTok has yet to comment. A spokesman for Hawley declined to comment.
In recent weeks, TikTok has begun to emphasize the company’s independence, pointing out that Data stores for U.S. users in the U.S. However, U.S. regulators, including the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), were not satisfied with TikTok’s response. CFIUS has launched an investigation into the deal to buy Music.ly in 2017.
Separately, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and Republican Senator Tom Cotton have asked U.S. intelligence officials to conduct a separate review of Tik Tok to determine whether Tik Tok poses a national security concern.
TikTok has become one of the world’s fastest growing social media platforms, with more than 1.3 billion downloads worldwide, including 120 million in the United States.