cover image: TikTok: Frequently Asked Questions and Issues for Congress


TikTok: Frequently Asked Questions and Issues for Congress

9 Apr 2024

Since its launch in the United States, some policymakers, technical experts, and Members of Congress have expressed concerns regarding TikTok’s ownership structure and potential implications for U.S. national security and the data privacy and security of U.S. users. Some Members have argued that ByteDance, TikTok's owner, as a PRC-headquartered company, is subject to potential PRC government pressure through various PRC laws and regulations governing intelligence, cybersecurity, and data security. They argue that the PRC government could apply these laws and regulations to compel ByteDance to turn over U.S. user data. Some Members have contended that the PRC government could potentially use TikTok as a platform for influencing public opinion in the United States or conducting malign activities such as spreading misinformation or interfering in elections. Some Members have also expressed broader concerns related to TikTok’s content moderation and online safety policies, particularly those that govern online protection for minors. Proponents of TikTok emphasize its role as a platform for accessing information, sharing content, generating revenue for small businesses and entrepreneur, as well as its relatively similar data and content moderation practices compared to other social media competitors. This report compiles responses to frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding TikTok, its ownership and the corporate structure of ByteDance Ltd., and potential national security and data privacy concerns related to the platform. This report also summarizes past executive action and legislation that sought to address these concerns, and examines potential constitutional considerations and policy implications for legislation and oversight that Congress could consider related to TikTok.
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Michael D. Sutherland, Peter J. Benson, Kristen E. Busch

Published in
United States of America

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