TikTok: CEO to Testify Before U.S. Congress
March 24, 2023
It is known that the Biden administration has intensified its threats against TikTok. In response to this, the company’s CEO, Shou Zi Chew, made his first appearance before Congress. Let’s see what it’s all about.
Data Protection and Privacy
For your information, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew appeared before a hearing organized by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, now led by US Republicans.
The hearing was titled “TikTok: How Congress can safeguard American data privacy and protect children from online harm”. Lawmakers’ questions covered numerous criticisms of the company, from national security concerns and Chinese ownership of TikTok to its impact on young people and users’ mental health.
In his opening statements, the CEO offered assurances that the company protects the safety of minors, will strengthen its privacy and security practices, and will avoid any possibility of “unauthorized foreign access” to US user data:
“I understand that there are concerns stemming from the mistaken belief that TikTok’s corporate structure obligates it to the Chinese government or that it shares information about US users with the Chinese government”… “This is emphatically false.”
Chew also stated that TikTok has never shared data about US users with the Chinese government, nor has it received a request to do so. And in the event that China requests access to US user data, Chew argued that the company would not comply:
“Let me say this unequivocally: ByteDance is not an agent of China or any other country.”
On another note, prior to the hearing, it was announced that TikTok now has over 150 million users in the US. A considerable jump from the last reported numbers. This has raised concerns about TikTok’s massive influence among Americans and serves as a threat that a US ban would anger both users and creators.
In addition, a group of creators is organizing a protest against the proposed ban in Washington, D.C. this week. Drawing attention to the negative impact it would have on their businesses.
The committee leadership also said they intend to press Chew on the measures TikTok is taking to protect children on the app. They pointed out that the hearing is the latest effort to hold tech companies accountable for their negative impacts on society.
Finally, while there is no evidence that China is collecting data on Americans or intentionally shaping political behavior through its algorithms. There is reason to be concerned that the company’s privacy practices are not airtight. This is true of all social media platforms, realistically speaking.
We’ll keep you updated!
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