"Allowing a Chinese state-sponsored data harvesting company to be the lead sponsor for the U.S. Cyber Games is another unbelievable demonstration of this administration’s incompetence," the GOP senators said in a statement Thursday. "TikTok is required by Chinese law to share U.S. user data with the Chinese Communist Party. They have no business being anywhere near this event and the Biden administration needs to pull their sponsorship"
The U.S. Cyber Games, which were launched in April, aim to bring the country's top cybersecurity talent together to represent the United States at the 2021 International Cyber Security Challenge in Athens, Greece in December.
TikTok, a popular social media app owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, has generated controversy with some lawmakers in the U.S. who say it is required by Chinese law to share user data with the Chinese Communist Party.
"Doing business with Beijing poses great security risks, especially when it comes to Americans’ personal data. If these companies have nothing to hide, they need to quit stalling and testify before Congress," Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., said of the company last year.
The social media app was the subject of a national security investigation by the U.S. Treasury Department stemming from its $1 billion acquisition of U.S. social media app Musical.ly, which raised increased concerns over the security of U.S. users' data. The Biden administration walked back a threat from former President Donald Trump to ban the app if ByteDance did not sell TikTok to a U.S. company.
The company was also fined by the Federal Trade Commission in 2019 for violating the privacy rights of children, and ByteDance in February reached a $92 million settlement in a class-action lawsuit over data privacy.
"The operators of Musical.ly—now known as TikTok—knew many children were using the app but they still failed to seek parental consent before collecting names, email addresses, and other personal information from users under the age of 13," said former FTC Chairman Joe Simons at the time.
"This record penalty should be a reminder to all online services and websites that target children: We take enforcement of COPPA very seriously, and we will not tolerate companies that flagrantly ignore the law."