Two U.S. lawmakers are calling on ESPN to end its relationship with TikTok after the social media platform sponsored recent college football bowl game halftime shows.
ESPN’s partnership with TikTok received bipartisan attention, as has the social media platform’s potential threat to U.S security in recent months. As reported by Semafor, Reps. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis. and Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill wrote a letter to the Disney-owned sports network stating TikTok “poses a significant threat to U.S. national security,” adding that their partnership raises “serious questions about ESPN corporate decision-making.”
Last month, Gallagher and Krishnamoorthi sponsored a bill to ban TikTok in the United States. The lawmakers have now requested ESPN to address a series of questions by the end of January, including whether they will end their relationship with TikTok and owner ByteDance, considering the U.S. government has deemed the Chinese company a security threat.
TikTok responded to the lawmakers’ letter to ESPN with the following statement:
“We’re disappointed that Reps. Gallagher and Krishnamoorthi decided to send this letter—which has many inaccuracies in it—without having had a briefing on our comprehensive plans to address their national security concerns,” Brooke Oberwetter, a TikTok spokesperson, wrote in a statement emailed to Semafor. “We would welcome the opportunity to share how we are addressing their concerns and familiarize them with the basics of our corporate structure and our policies.”
Lawmakers have been concerned about TikTok’s ability to share U.S. users’ tracking location, browsing history and personal data with the Chinese government. In the wake of those determined security risks, TikTok has been banned on federal government-issued devices, and more than a dozen states have taken action to similarly ban the app on state government-issued devices.