This story was originally published by the WND News Center.
The Chinese-owned video-sharing app TikTok said Monday it now has 150 million monthly active users in the United States, 50 million more than it said it had in 2020, Reuters reported.
The rapid growth comes as more American state governments are banning the app over privacy, spying, security and moral concerns, while the Biden administration has banned its use by federal employees.
"The app faces growing pressure in Washington including calls to ban the app by many in Congress who fear its U.S. user data could fall into the hands of China's government. TikTok said in September 2021 that globally it had more than 1 billion monthly users," Reuters reported.
The TikTok user data was confirmed by the company in advance of upcoming testimony March 23 by TikTok's CEO, Shou Zi Chew, before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Congress passed a bipartisan bill, the "No TikTok on Government Devices Act," in December, and earlier this year the Biden administration issued a directive banning the app on all federal devices.
"Despite the repeated assurances from TikTok executives that the company will not do so, U.S. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said the ruling Communist Party requires companies doing business in China to provide access to their data," CBS News reported March 1.
"The Chinese government is not just hacking to gather our data," Monaco said, according to another CBS report. "If a company is operating in China and is collecting your data, it is a good bet that the Chinese government is accessing it."
U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wi., one of the fiercest critics of Communist China on Capitol Hill, issued the following statement on TikTok Jan. 6 after Gov. Tony Evers, D-Wis., banned TikTok on state devices following pressure by federal and state legislators:
"TikTok is a CCP trojan horse that can track someone's location, monitor their keystrokes, and collect other pieces of sensitive information about them. This app belongs nowhere near any part of our government and I'm glad Governor Evers finally made the decision to ban TikTok on state devices. Now that Governor Evers has recognized the threat posed by the app, I hope he will also delete his campaign's TikTok account."
Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., and John Thune, R-S.D., announced last week that there are now 18 Senate cosponsors — nine Democrats and nine Republicans — on their "RESTRICT Act" bill to guard against foreign-based technologies like TikTok that "pose undue risk to our national security." RESTRICT stands for "Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology."
"This comprehensive legislation would help address 21st century technological threats posed by foreign adversaries, who may seek to manipulate Americans’ personal data, or track U.S. military personnel, assets, or their families, among other dangerous steps. There is bipartisan agreement on the need to counter these threats and it’s time to turn that agreement into action,” said Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., describing the bill.
Interviewed for the March 17 Daily Signal podcast, Keith Krach, Trump's former undersecretary of state for economic growth, energy, and the environment, said TikTok's user information is made available to the Chinese Communist Party.
Asked what he would ask Chew if he were a Congressman at the upcoming hearing, Krach said, "Well, maybe the first thing I'd ask him is, 'Are there members of the [Chinese] Communist Party on your board?' And the answer would be 'yes.'"
"I think the other questions I would ask him would be around China's National Security Intelligence Act that requires any Chinese company, state-owned or otherwise, or any Chinese individual, to turn over any data, proprietary information, anything of that sort ... upon request of the Chinese Communist Party," Krach said.
"And if you don't do that, you're going to go to prison. I would ask him about that," he said.
Krach chairs the Krach Institute for Tech Diplomacy at Purdue University. Daily Signal is a Heritage Foundation publication.