Sen. Rick Scott Condemns Met Gala for Inviting TikTok CEO as Honorary Chair

Aaron Pan
By Aaron Pan
February 17, 2024Politics
Sen. Rick Scott Condemns Met Gala for Inviting TikTok CEO as Honorary Chair
TikTok CEO Shou Chew testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington on Jan. 31, 2024. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) has condemned the fashion magazine Vogue’s decision to name TikTok’s CEO Shou Zi Chew to serve as an honorary chair at this year’s Met Gala event in May.

“Disturbing the Met Gala would allow TikTok’s CEO to be an ‘honorary’ chair,” Mr. Scott said on X on Feb. 15.

Vogue Magazine revealed on Feb. 15 that Anna Wintour, Zendaya, Jennifer Lopez, Bad Bunny, and Chris Hemsworth will be hosts of the 2024 Met Gala. Mr. Chew and Loewe creative director Jonathan Anderson will be honorary chairs of the fashion event.

The Met Gala is a major annual fundraising fashion event held in support of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Hosted by the fashion magazine Vogue, the event often invites celebrities, well-known business figures, and politicians to attend the gala.

The announcement comes at a time when TikTok faces intensified scrutiny from lawmakers over its questionable business operations.

Last year, Mr. Chew testified before Congress over TikTok’s alleged ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and privacy concerns. Earlier this month, Mr. Chew again appeared at a congressional hearing about the potential harm of the short video-sharing app to children and other controversial content on the platform.

“This guy leads the CCP’s effort to spy on your kids and feed them information. Every Met attendee and co-chair should be asked if they’re okay with that,” Mr. Scott added.

TikTok is owned by a China-based company ByteDance. As of March 2023, 150 million active American users were using the app.

Banned From Multiple Countries

Mr. Scott and GOP Senators introduced legislation to ban federal employees from using TikTok on government devices in March 2020. The Senate later unanimously passed the bill in August 2020. Earlier last year, the Biden administration ordered TikTok to be deleted from all government devices to ensure the safety of U.S. data.

Countries worldwide have also imposed similar bans on the China-backed app over national security concerns and its harmful content to children. Australia, Canada, the European Union, New Zealand, the UK, and several U.S. states have already ordered such bans.

While those countries banned TikTok on government devices, India and Nepal banned the Chinese social media app nationwide. In May, Montana became the first U.S. state to order a state-wide ban on TikTok in an effort to protect its residents’ privacy.

Since 2019, ByteDance has spent millions in lobbying efforts to prevent the app from facing a ban in the United States.

CCP Propaganda Tool

Lawmakers in Washington have expressed concerns about TikTok’s ties to the CCP, saying the company could hand over American users’ data to Chinese authorities. They noted that China’s intelligence law compels “any organization or citizen” to “support, assist, and cooperate” with security and intelligence agencies when asked.

Experts and officials also pointed to the possibility that the CCP could use personal data harvesting from Americans through the viral app to conduct espionage operations or shape their perceptions to be favorable to the Chinese regime. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the viral app could be used as “a propaganda channel for the CCP.”

During a congressional hearing in March 2023, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) accused TikTok of having ties to the Chinese regime through its parent company ByteDance. She told Mr. Chew that the app “should be banned.”

“CCP laws require Chinese companies like ByteDance to spy on their behalf,” Ms. Rodgers said. “That means any Chinese company must grant the CCP access and manipulation capabilities as a design feature.”

“TikTok surveils us all, and the Chinese Communist Party is able to use this as a tool to manipulate America as a whole. We do not trust TikTok will ever embrace American values,” Ms. Rodgers noted.

FBI Director Christopher Wray said at a congressional hearing in 2022 that TikTok threatened U.S. national security due to its alleged ties to the CCP.

A TikTok senior executive confirmed last year that ByteDance has access to user data. A report from a cybersecurity firm, Internet 2.0., also found that TikTok allegedly tracks users’ contacts, locations, and passwords.

Last year, European regulators fined TikTok $368 million for failing to protect children’s privacy.

TikTok did not respond to a request for comment by The Epoch Times.

Dorothy Li contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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