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Blackburn Grills TikTok On CCP Ties, Invasion Of Privacy: ‘You’re Making Our Children The Product’

Sen. Blackburn tore into a TikTok executive on Tuesday, grilling him on the social media giant’s data collection and ties to the Chinese government.

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Sen. Marsha Blackburn tore into TikTok’s Head of Public Policy Michael Beckerman in a recent hearing, grilling him on the company’s invasion of user data and its connections with the Chinese Communist Party.

Blackburn began by pointing out that although the social media giant had previously promised that it would never share user data with the Chinese government, their privacy policy allows them to share data with parent companies. One such company is ByteDance, where the Chinese government has recently obtained both a board seat and an ownership stake.

Blackburn questioned Beckerman on TikTok’s ties to China, asking “Does TikTok share user data with its parent company ByteDance?”

Beckerman dodged the question, citing a report that indicates TikTok does not share user data directly with the Chinese government, while sidestepping the issue of ByteDance’s access to user data.

Blackburn also asked if TikTok has programmers and data teams in China, to which Beckerman answered “we have engineers in the United States and throughout the world,” prompting Blackburn to reply “that answer is yes,” which Beckerman does not deny.

Blackburn also pointed out that TikTok collects a wide variety of biometric user data, including “face prints, voice prints, geolocation information, browsing and search history, not just on TikTok but on other apps.”

When challenged on this data collection, Beckerman eventually reverted to a sales pitch for the app, saying “TikTok is an entertainment platform where people watch and enjoy and create short-form videos” saying that “it’s about uplifting and entertaining content.”

Blackburn later called out the company’s data collection practices when she remarked “in essence, what you’re doing is making our children and their data, you’re making that the product,” going on to note that the data is sold and “weaponized against” users.