TikTok CEO faces U.S. lawmakers for questioning amid calls for full app ban

TikTok CEO faces U.S. lawmakers for questioning amid calls for full app ban

The CEO of TikTok will make a high-profile look Thursday earlier than a U.S. congressional committee, the place he’ll face a grilling on information safety and consumer security whereas he makes his case for why the massively fashionable video-sharing app should not be banned.

Shou Zi Chew’s testimony comes at a vital time for the corporate, which has acquired 150 million American customers however is below growing strain from U.S. officers. TikTok and its dad or mum firm, ByteDance, have been swept up in a wider geopolitical battle between Beijing and Washington over commerce and expertise.

Chew, a 40-year-old Singapore native, is making a uncommon public look to counter the volley of accusations that TikTok has been going through. 

Chew plans to inform the U.S. Home committee on power and commerce that TikTok prioritizes the security of its younger customers and deny allegations that the app is a nationwide safety danger, in line with his ready remarks launched forward of the listening to.

TikTok has been dogged by claims that its Chinese language possession means consumer information might find yourself within the fingers of the Chinese language authorities or that it might be used to advertise narratives beneficial to the nation’s Communist leaders.

“We perceive the recognition of TikTok, we get that,” mentioned White Home press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre at a press convention Wednesday afternoon. “However the president’s job is to ensure once more that … nationwide safety is protected as nicely.”

The U.S., Britain, Canada and New Zealand are among the many nations which have not too long ago banned use of TikTok on government-issued telephones. Norway did so Thursday, whereas additionally banning the federal government use of Telegram, based by Russian brothers.

FBI Director Christopher Wray mentioned final 12 months the company was involved about “the chance that the Chinese language authorities might use [TikTok] to manage information assortment on thousands and thousands of customers or management the advice algorithm, which might be used for affect operations.”

New York congressman Jamaal Bowman, a Democrat, is proven talking at a rally of TikTok supporters on the steps of the Capitol in Washington on March 22, 2023. The Home of Representatives is holding a listening to Thursday with TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew on the platform’s client privateness and information safety practices and influence on youngsters. (J. Scott Applewhite/The Related Press)

Calls to ban TikTok have near-total assist from Republican lawmakers, in addition to widespread assist from Democrats.

However Democratic congressman Jamaal Bowman seems against the selective method.

“As a substitute of banning TikTok, we’d like complete laws to make sure social media customers’ information is protected and safe,” mentioned Bowman. “Banning TikTok will not remedy that downside.”

Unclear how a ban would work

A U.S. ban on an app can be unprecedented, and it is unclear how the federal government would go about implementing it.

Why was TikTok banned on authorities units? | About That

Ottawa simply banned TikTok on all Canadian authorities units. Andrew appears to be like at why the app that’s so fashionable with Gen Z is inflicting concern on the federal stage.

Consultants say officers might attempt to power Apple and Google to take away TikTok from their app shops, stopping new customers from downloading it in addition to stopping current customers from updating it, in the end rendering it ineffective.

The U.S. might additionally block entry to TikTok’s infrastructure and information, seize its domains or power web service suppliers to filter TikTok information site visitors, mentioned Ahmed Ghappour, a legal regulation and pc safety knowledgeable who teaches at Boston College’s college of regulation.

However a tech savvy consumer might nonetheless get round restrictions through the use of a digital personal community (VPN) to make it seem the consumer is overseas the place it isn’t blocked, he mentioned.

To keep away from a ban, TikTok has been making an attempt to promote officers on a $1.5 billion US plan to route all U.S. consumer information to home servers owned and maintained by software program big Oracle.

As of October, all new U.S. consumer information was being saved contained in the nation. The corporate began deleting all historic U.S. consumer information from non-Oracle servers this month, in a course of anticipated to be accomplished later this 12 months, Chew has mentioned.

China’s authorities mentioned Thursday it will oppose attainable U.S. plans to power TikTok to promote the service, one other risk that has been talked about to permit the service to proceed to function.