TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testifies before House of Representatives committee
TikTok CEO Show Zi Chu testified before a hostile House committee as lawmakers debate a ban on the popular video-sharing app.
Bilateral representatives on the House Energy and Commerce Committee quizzed the executive about privacy issues, national security concerns, the company’s ties to China, and the harm the app has caused to children and teens in the US.
“Mr. Chu, you are here because the American people need the truth about the threat that TikTok poses to our national and personal security,” committee chair Kathy McMorris Rogers of Washington said in her opening remarks. “TikTok has repeatedly chosen the path for more control, more surveillance and more manipulation.”
In his response, Chu tried to reassure officials and the American public that the app, owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance, fixes security flaws that allowed international actors to access US users’ data.
“We will protect US data from unwanted outside access with a firewall,” Chu assured the committee.
He also noted Texas’ ongoing $1.5 billion project with software giant Oracle to move all user data out of the US to facilities in the country.
“American data is stored on American soil by an American company controlled by American personnel,” Chu repeated several times during tense hearings.
Since October, all new data collected about US users has been stored on these US servers. However, the CEO acknowledged that some legacy data is still stored in facilities that can be accessed by ByteDance engineers.
Chu, the former CFO of ByteDance, has also tried to downplay TikTok’s connection to China and denied ties to the country’s government and the ruling Chinese Communist Party.
“Let me be clear: ByteDance is not an agent of China or any other country,” Chu said. “ByteDance has five board members, and three of them are Americans.”
Other representatives focused on the content presented in the app. Rep. Gus Bilirakis of Florida has criticized the algorithm the app uses for its “For You” page, which he says contributed to the death of a 16-year-old who was served content encouraging him to commit suicide.
Chu has repeatedly touted the company’s recent efforts to moderate content delivered to children, including a new limit on viewing more than 60 minutes of content for users under 16.
Another congresswoman, Rep. Kat Cammack of Florida, showed a video threatening violence against the afternoon session.
The video showed a rendering of a pistol firing a full clip, with the caption, “I’m on the House Energy and Commerce Committee on March 23, 2023.” It also bore the name of Rep. McMorris Rogers, chairman of the committee.
According to Cammack, the video was available for viewing for the next 41 days leading up to the hearing.
“Your own community guidelines say, ‘We don’t allow people to use our platform to threaten or incite violence,'” Cammack said. “Do you expect us to believe that you can keep the data of 150 million Americans safe when you can’t even protect the people in this room?”
Chu was not given the opportunity to respond to the video.
Is there a story? Contact our news team by emailing us at email@example.com. Or you can submit your videos and photos here.
For more stories like this visit our news page.
Subscribe to Metro.co.uk at Twitter and Facebook for the latest news updates. Now you can also get Metro.co.uk articles straight to your device. Sign up for our daily push notifications here.