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In a notable bipartisan move, over a dozen US lawmakers have formally requested the Department of Commerce to list ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, on its export control list, citing significant security risks.

Representatives Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) and Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) led the group, expressing alarm over the security of American user data on TikTok and the app’s ties to the Chinese government. “TikTok provides the [Chinese Communist Party] with the ability to weaponize the platform by suppressing, magnifying, and otherwise constructing narratives to target specific audiences abroad,” the lawmakers said in their correspondence to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.

Dan Crenshaw

The plea aims to enforce licensing restrictions on the export of US software to ByteDance, which could, as the lawmakers argue, “weaken the operability of the applications of concern.” This action is seen as a critical step in mitigating the influence of Chinese soft power and propaganda through ByteDance’s applications. Despite TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew’s assurances to Congress that the company has never shared US user data with the Chinese government, and his promotion of Project Texas—a project intended to segregate US user data—lawmakers remain skeptical.

The skepticism is fueled by reports suggesting internal directives at TikTok and ByteDance have sometimes instructed employees to share data across company divisions, casting doubt on the effectiveness of Project Texas. In defense, a TikTok spokesperson criticized the lawmakers’ letter, stating, “Not only does this letter misrepresent the facts and the law, it also ignores the industry-leading work we’ve done to safeguard protected US user data.”


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