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TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testifies before US Congress amid growing security concerns – live | ICT Tac

Key events

Lawmakers are focusing more on teen and child mental health on TikTok now.

Representative Gus Bilirakis tells the story of Chase Nasca, a 16-year-old boy who ended his life a year ago by walking in front of a train.

“I want to thank his parents for being here today and allowing us to show him,” Bilirakis said. “Mr. Chew your business has destroyed their lives. I admire their courage to be here and share Chase’s story in hopes it will prevent this from happening to other families. The content of the Chase’s ‘For You’ page was not a window to discovery…instead his ‘For You’ page was unfortunately a window to discovering suicide It is unacceptable, sir, that even after experiencing all these dangers , you continue [contend] TikTok is something awe-inspiring to behold.

Bilirakis then played a series of TikToks that promote suicidal thoughts.

“Are you responsible for the algorithms used by TikTok to prioritize content for its users,” he asks Chew.

In his response, Chew attempted to point out that TikTok shares mental health resources, but Bilirakis pushes him on the issue, taking his attempts to respond to what TikTok is doing to help teen mental health as a way to avoid answer his question or accept responsibility.

Representative Kat Cammack presented a video that was posted 41 days ago that shows a gun being fired. The text on the video reads “me ASF at the House Energy and Commerce Committee…” and the caption includes the name of the committee chair, Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

“I think it’s a clear demonstration of the vulnerability of people who use TikTok, you couldn’t act after 41 days when a clear threat, a very violent threat against the president of this committee and the members of this committee has been published on your platform,” Cammack said. “You know very well that you cannot protect the data and security of this committee or the 150 million users of your app because it is an extension of the CCP.”

The president did not allow Chew to respond.

Importantly, committee members have repeatedly attempted to link Chew to ByteDance executives – some of whom they say work with or are affiliated with the CCP.

Rep. Diana DeGette brings up the WSJ report again and asks Chew to comment. He said he should respond to them because if ByteDance would be forced to sell TikTok is still in development, so he has no specifics but that Project Texas would protect US users no matter what.

“Does TikTok share user information…abroad? Degette asked. Chew has said in the past yes, but with Project Texas that would no longer be the case. He reiterated that efforts to protect user data through Project Texas are more than any other company.

Rep. Richard Hudson asked Chew about reports that ByteDance employees accessed US journalists’ user data to investigate an internal leak of information. Chew says TikTok condemns this behavior.

“We took prompt disciplinary action against the employees and are implementing measures to ensure this does not happen again,” he said.

Representative Anna Eshoo asked how TikTok could circumvent Beijing’s security laws that require companies to provide data to the government and make the law’s reach “extraterritorial”. “It’s very clear,” Eshoo said. “It’s the laws of the PRC, how does TikTok convince the United States Congress that there can be a clean break? Why would the Chinese government circumvent its national law… in terms of user data? »

Chew reiterated that the plan is to move US data to US soil. Eshoo is not satisfied: “How can you promise that the data will be transferred to the United States and protected here?”

Chew said he had seen no evidence that the Chinese government had access to our data. “They didn’t ask us,” he said.

Eshoo said she does not believe there is a private sector in China. “When you look at their national legislation…I think there is a real issue relating to our national security regarding the protection of user data.”

Committee members cited a Wall Street Journal report that says China would oppose a forced sale of TikTok.

“China’s Ministry of Commerce said on Thursday that a sale or divestiture of TikTok would involve the export of technology and must be approved by the Chinese government,” the article said.

Representative Michael Burgess said that despite Chew’s claims, China appears to believe it controls TikTok and its software.

Chew said that although TikTok is not available in mainland China, the founders of ByteDance are Chinese and they work with Chinese employees, as do many companies around the world.

Burgess asked if anyone at ByteDance was “directly providing input, assistance, or instructions for your testimony today.” Chew said he prepared for this hearing with his team in DC.

As a reminder, ByteDance is the parent company of TikTok.

Rep. Pallone said he didn’t believe the Texas project was enough that the CCP would still be able to access the data.

Now he’s asking about some of TikTok’s finances, including how much money the company makes from targeted ads. Chew refuses to share it because the company is private and therefore his finances are also private.

“My concern here is mostly about the privacy issue, the fact that TikTok is making all kinds of money collecting private information about Americans…and then they’re selling it,” Pallone said, referring to the privacy legislation he and Rodgers defend. “Would you agree not to sell data to anyone?

Chew said the company doesn’t sell data to data brokers, Pallone says he’s talking about selling or sharing data with anyone. Chew said he would get back to him on the details.

Chew said the company is committed to being transparent about the data it collects and he doesn’t believe the company collects more data than any other technology platform. Pallone said that’s not his point: he knows all tech companies collect data he doesn’t think they should and wants to see if Tiktok would commit to being a good player and stop collecting data. data.

Rep. Rodgers asked Chew if he had regular contact with various Bytedance executives. He said he was in regular contact with the CEO of the parent company.

“All of these people work or are affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party and are at the highest levels of Bytedance leadership,” Rodgers replied. “A company where you were previously CFO and where you communicate regularly with the CEO.”

Shou Zi Chew, CEO of TikTok, begins his testimony by emphasizing his Singaporean heritage. He tried this strategy before in a letter to lawmakers when he first took over the company. TikTok is run by a Singaporean based in Singapore, he wrote in that letter, and is not beholden to the Chinese government.

Chew also points out that the company’s 150 million users in the United States use the platform for a variety of purposes, including educational videos.

To address lawmakers’ national security concerns, Chew talks about Project Texas — an effort to move all US data to national servers. He said the company deletes all user data stored on servers outside of the United States, and all of it is expected to be deleted later this year.

“Trust is about the actions we take, we need to earn your trust with the decisions we make…potential security concerns, privacy concerns…are not unique to us. clear and transparent rules that apply to all tech companies,” Chew said.

He ends with this: “There are more than 150 million users who love our platform and we know that we have a responsibility to protect them, which is why I make the following commitments to you and all of our users:

1) We will keep safety, especially for teenagers, as a top priority for us.
2) We will firewall US data against unwanted foreign access
3) TikTok will remain a place of free expression and will not be manipulated by any government
4) We will be transparent and provide access to independent third party monitors to remain accountable to our commitments.

Ranking member Frank Pallonea Democrat from New Jersey, focuses more on spreading misinformation about TikTok and the platform’s impact on teen mental health. He is also using this opportunity to speak to call for the passage of a bill that would create a federal privacy law that would rule over all big tech data collection practices.

Hello, the hearing has started.

Representing Cathy McMorrisRodgers, the chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, spoke passionately about her concerns about TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance. The thrust of his argument is that TikTok poses a “serious threat” of foreign influence to American life. She claims that China requires companies to allow the government access to its data, by design.

Rodgers tells Chew that he must not only answer to Congress but also to the American people.

TikTok CEO to start testifying soon

Hello and welcome to our live blog of today’s interrogation of TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew by members of the United States Congress.

The panel, convened by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, will begin at 10 a.m. ET and is titled TikTok: How Congress Can Protect US Data Privacy and Protect Children from Harm Online.

This is the first appearance by a TikTok chief executive before US lawmakers. It comes as the political storm surrounding the Chinese-owned social media platform intensifies, with the Biden administration threatening to ban the app entirely in the United States.

TikTok, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, has long been the subject of criticism over the data it holds on US users – data that lawmakers say could fall into the hands of the Chinese government.

According to prepared statements shared ahead of time, Chew is expected to insist that TikTok has never and will never share US user data with the Chinese government, nor will it allow the state to manipulate content posted on the platform. -form.

“Let me say this unequivocally: ByteDance is not an agent of China or any other country,” Chew said.

Stay tuned for more updates as the hearing begins.


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