Congress committee chair to TikTok: ‘Your platform should be banned’

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The CEO of TikTok was today greeted with hostility by the chairman of a US congressional committee when he arrived in Washington to testify.

“You are here because America needs the truth” about the company, Cathy Rogers, chair of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, told Shaw Chew.

“TikTok surveys all of us and the Chinese Communist Party [CCP] America has been able to use it as a tool to manipulate. We do not believe that TikTok will ever embrace American values, values ​​of freedom, human rights and innovation. TikTok has repeatedly turned down a path of more control, more surveillance, and more manipulation. Your platform should be banned.”

Committee Room where TikTok CEO testifies on March 23, 2023

“I expect you will say anything today to avoid the consequences, like saying you are 100 percent responsible for what TikTok does, that you suddenly support a national data privacy standard, that Project Texas. [to house American TikTok data on Oracle servers in the U.S.] is much more than a marketing ploy, that TikTok doesn’t harm our innocent children, or that your connection to the Chinese Communist Party via ByteDance is just a myth. We are not buying it”

“TikTok has been repeatedly caught in the lie that it does not answer to the CCP [parent company] ByteDance,” said Rogers, a Republican from Washington state. “Many of your employees still report directly to Beijing.”

“From the data it collects to the content it controls, TikTok poses a serious threat of foreign influence in American life.”

Related Content: US pressure on ByteDance to sell TikTok

In his five-minute opening speech, Chew fired back strongly, trying to defend the company’s vast American business. About 5 million US companies use video apps. There are an estimated 150 million US customers.

Over the past two years, TikTok “has been building what amounts to a firewall that seals off protected US data from unauthorized foreign access,” he said.

“Today, US TikTok data is stored by default in Oracle servers” in Texas, he said. “Only Vito employees can control access to this data in a new company called TikTok US Data Security. The company plans to report to a US independent board with strong security credentials.

The legacy data is still stored in Virginia and Singapore, he acknowledged, but said it will be deleted this year. “Then all US data will be under the protection of US law,” he said.

“This puts an end to the concern that some of you have shared with me that TikTok user data may be subject to Chinese law.”

RELATED CONTENT: Canada bans TikTok from federal tools

Chew said parent company ByteDance is not owned or controlled by the Chinese government. It is owned 60 percent by global institutional investors, 20 percent by employees and 20 percent by the company’s founders. ByteDance has five board of directors, three of whom are American.

in writing to the committee, He also said that TikTok has never shared, or received a request to share, US user data with the Chinese government. “Nor will TikTok honor such a request if ever made. Actually, a 2021 report [the University of Toronto’s] Citizen Lab, an internationally renowned security research laboratory, found that no direct data transmission was made by TikTok to the Chinese government, and that TikTok did not contact any servers within China.

that report It also says that data collection on TikTok behaves like that of Facebook and other popular social platforms, and shares the same privacy issues as these apps. The report states that TikTok tracks user behavior for targeted advertising and platform optimization and this data is shared with third parties. “If you are not comfortable with that level of data collection and sharing,” the report advises, “you should refrain from using the app.”

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