Some key moments as TikTok’s CEO testifies before congress. CEO of the social media platform is set to testify before congress as lawmakers reportedly grill him about the platform’s ties to China and what the app is doing on its own end in regards to protecting young people on the platform.
Some Key Moments as TikTok’s CEO Testifies before Congress
TikTok CEO Shou Chew faced skeptical lawmakers in the US Congress on Thursday in a bid to try to fend off calls to ban the hugely popular and successful video app.
“There are more than 150 million Americans who love our platform, and we know we have a responsibility to protect them,” Chew in remarks prepared for his appearance before the House Energy and Commerce Committee stated.
The Biden-led administration in the early parts of this month demanded that ByteDance, which is the app’s Chinese parent company, sell its stake in the app or get face a possible ban in the US. Officials are concerned that TikTok could be forced to share user data in the US with the Chinese government, thus posing a national security threat. And in December, US lawmakers banned the app from all government-related devices. Other countries, including Canada, EU member states, and Taiwan, have also taken similar steps.
Lawmakers repeatedly questioned Chew about ByteDance’s ties to the Chinese government on Thursday, and in the process expressed doubts that TikTok would be able to protect the data of users in the US. They also alleged that TikTok could be used by the Chinese government in influencing public opinion in the United States.
And although the main thrust of the hearing focused on the platform’s alleged ties to China, lawmakers also touched on other concerns, and this is including data collection and protecting teens and young people from harmful content on the platform (TikTok).
The Most Interesting Comments So Far From the Hearing
Cathy Mcmorris Rodgers, Committee Chair Rep’s Opening Statement
“Mr. Chew, you are here because the American people need the truth about the threat TikTok poses to our national and personal security. TikTok collects nearly every data point imaginable, from people’s location to what they type and copy, biometric data, and more. … 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.”
She continued her speech: “TikTok has repeatedly chosen a path for more control, more surveillance and more manipulation. Your platform should be banned. I expect today you’ll say anything to avoid this outcome.”
Chews Opening Statement
“We have heard important concerns about the potential for unwanted foreign access to US data and potential manipulation of the TikTok US ecosystem. We have addressed them with real action. … That’s what we’ve been doing for the last two years, building what amounts to a firewall that seals off protected US user data from unauthorized foreign access. The bottom line is this: American data, stored on American soil, by an American company, overseen by American personnel. We call this initiative Project Texas.”
Chews Statement on Legacy US Data
“We have legacy US data sitting in our servers in Virginia and in Singapore. We’re deleting those and we expect that to be complete this year. When that is done, all protected US data will be under the protection of US law and under the control of the US-led security team. This eliminates the concern that some of you have shared with me that TikTok user data can be subject to Chinese law.”
Rep. Buddy Carter, On Harmful Viral Videos Such As the Milk Crate Challenge
“Why is it that TikTok consistently fails to identify and moderate these kinds of harmful videos? Why is it that you allow this to go on? We’ve already heard … from parents who are here with us who have lost children.”
Chew responds on the matter: “This is a real industry challenge and we’re working on our…”
Carter: “No, no, it’s not industry. This is TikTok. We’re talking about TikTok. We’re talking about why is it that you can’t control this. … Tell me why this goes on.”
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