Shou Zi Chew

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TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew Faces Congress As The US Contemplates An App Prohibition

Shou Zi Chew

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As the Biden administration considers banning TikTok in the United States, the app’s CEO, Shou Zi Chew, testified before Congress on Thursday, March 23, 2023, to assure the public that the app poses no national security risk. Since April 2021, Zi Chew, the social media platform’s CEO, has testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee:

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“To be clear: ByteDance is not a Chinese or other country’s agent.”

During the meeting, Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers expressed concern about “potential foreign influence on American life,” while Democrat Frank Pallone criticized TikTok for spreading misinformation and questioned the company’s data-gathering practices.

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The CEO responded that TikTok is a Singaporean company run by a Singaporean. He stated that the app has over 150 million users in the country who use it for a variety of purposes including leisure and education.

Chew mentioned Project Texas, the organization’s effort to transfer all of its US data to local computers and erase all user data, in order to reassure the Committee that national security is of the utmost importance. He expected the job to be completed by the end of the year.

What did TikTok’s CEO tell the House Energy and Commerce Committee?

The committee was concerned about many of TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance’s, friends having ties to the Chinese Communist Party, and questioned Chew about them. Tony Cárdenas, a Democrat from California, even questioned whether TikTok was a Chinese company, and Neal Dunn, a Republican from Florida, asked if they “spied on American citizens.”

Shou Zi Chew testified before the panel that Project Texas is a $1.5 billion security project that began last month to delete all user data, and that any data generated in the United States is already stored on an Oracle cloud-based server. He went on to say, ”

“Under this structure, there is no way for the Chinese government to gain access or compel access to it.”

Additionally, anyone attempting to obtain the information must first be authorized by employees of US Data Security (USDS). He also stated that the data would be protected by a firewall against unauthorized overseas access.

Aside from Project Texas, the CEO promised the panel:

“We have over 150 million users who adore our platform, and we recognize our responsibility to protect them.”

He stated that the app will prioritize safety, especially for teens, and that the platform will remain a place of open speech that is not “manipulated by any government.” He also stated that impartial third-party surveillance would ensure that security promises are met in order to improve openness.

Many TikTok users and organizations are opposed to the ban

As the prohibition has gained prominence this week, users have been sharing their thoughts on it. Many people believe the committee was more concerned with prohibiting a thriving outside business than with security and privacy issues.

While TikTok’s fate is unknown, many civil rights and data security organizations have spoken out against the ban. According to The Guardian, organizations such as Fight for the Future, the Center for Democracy and Technology, and the American Civil Liberties Union submitted a statement claiming that a ban would violate their fundamental right to free expression.

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