US lawmaker under fire over Chinese app TikTok's usage. Here's why

By | Edited by Aryan Prakash
Mar 31, 2023 09:16 PM IST

The complaint claims that Omar ignored warnings about potential data sharing with the Chinese government when she used TikTok app.

Ilhan Omar, a Democratic Representative from Minnesota in US, is facing an ethics complaint over her use of Chinese app TikTok for both official and political purposes.

US Representative Ilhan Omar(Reuters)
US Representative Ilhan Omar(Reuters)

According to a New York Post report, the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) filed a complaint on Thursday with the Office of Congressional Ethics, citing Omar's alleged violation of House rules. The complaint claims that Omar ignored warnings about potential data sharing with the Chinese government when she used the app. The Beijing-based company ByteDance Ltd is the owner of TikTok.

Also Read | US spy agency cyber chief warns TikTok is China’s ‘Trojan Horse’

“Along with this political content, she has also made posts that used official government resources, including C-SPAN footage from the House floor, what appears to be a cell phone video recorded on the House floor, and an interview from what appears to be in her House office,” added the complaint, addressed to chief House ethics counsel Omar Ashmawy.

Also Read | ‘US lawmakers to move forward with TikTok bill’: House speaker Kevin McCarthy

According to the complaint filed by the FACT, Ilhan Omar allegedly violated federal law by using her TikTok account for political purposes. The complaint alleges that Omar made several overtly political posts on the app, including urging viewers to support Democratic candidates, messaging Democrats volunteering for campaigns, and sharing videos of her campaigning and attending campaign events.

The complaint further alleges that Omar flouted the rule of "strict separation" between campaign and official duties, which is required by federal law for members of Congress. The complaint cites nearly a dozen of Omar's posts on TikTok as evidence.

TikTok has been under scrutiny over security concerns, with both the House Committee on House Administration and the White House ordering its removal from government devices due to worries over potential espionage.

Despite these concerns, over 30 members of Congress still maintain TikTok accounts, raising bipartisan concerns that China's government could obtain data from 100 million US users through the app. Recently, the CEO of TikTok, Shou Zi Chew, faced questioning by the House Energy and Commerce Committee about his company's links to China.

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