TikTok CEO faces tough questions from US lawmakers over data security and Chinese ties

Mar 24, 2023
Updated • Mar 24, 2023

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testifies before US Congress: Highlights and Updates

While a potential ban of TikTok in the US originated from an executive order under the Trump administration, it has gained wider acceptance as a political stance under President Joe Biden. Recent reports indicate that the Biden administration has demanded that ByteDance, the Chinese parent company of TikTok, divest ownership of the app's US assets or face a ban in the country.

TikTok CEO faces tough questions from US lawmakers

The CEO of TikTok, Shou Zi Chew, is currently testifying before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce in an effort to persuade lawmakers that the app is safe. Numerous correspondents from various publications are present at the hearing and are providing real-time updates as it progresses.

The primary concern regarding TikTok's safety is related to national security, specifically the possibility that ByteDance's ownership of the app could provide the Chinese government with access to the personal data of its 150 million US users. This concern has led to the federal government's prohibition of the app on official devices, with many state governments following suit. Additionally, there are fears that TikTok's video recommendation algorithm could be manipulated to further China's foreign policy objectives.

The concerns surrounding TikTok's safety come amidst increased tensions between the US and China, which has made US officials more cautious than ever about China's expanding global influence. The Biden administration introduced extensive new restrictions last year designed to restrict China's access to advanced technology, and has been advocating for other countries to do the same.

TikTok CEO faces tough questions from US lawmakers

The latest developments

During the hearing of TikTok in front of the US House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Shou Zi Chew faced a barrage of questions from lawmakers regarding the app's data security practices and its connections to the Chinese government. Chew reiterated that TikTok operates autonomously from ByteDance, its parent company, and emphasized that the data of US users is stored in the US and Singapore. Nevertheless, some lawmakers remained unconvinced, citing the possibility that the Chinese government could access data stored in Singapore.

Moreover, Chew discussed TikTok's actions in addressing misinformation and harmful content on the platform, citing the app's policies for content moderation and partnerships with third-party fact-checkers. However, the lawmakers inquired about the effectiveness of these measures, particularly in cases where harmful content remained on the platform for a prolonged period.

The hearing also focused on the issue of TikTok's algorithm and its potential to influence users' viewpoints on international affairs. Chew denied that the algorithm was designed to promote any political agenda. Nevertheless, the lawmakers expressed concerns that it could be utilized to achieve this aim.

In summary, the hearing has so far highlighted the ongoing tensions between the US and China regarding data security and the increased scrutiny of Chinese-owned technology companies in the US. Although Chew sought to reassure lawmakers about TikTok's safety for US users, it remains to be seen whether his efforts will be sufficient to alleviate concerns regarding the app's links to China.


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