At his very first Congressional hearing, TikTok CEO Shou Chew attempted to minimize TikTok’s ties to China and parent business ByteDance. Legislators at the House Energy and Commerce Committee were far from pleased with his responses.
In her opening declarations, committee chair Representative Cathy Rodgers stated that TikTok needs to be prohibited. “ByteDance is beholden to the CCP [Chinese Communist Party]and ByteDance and TikTok are one and the exact same,” she stated.
Chew, who in his written testament stated that “ByteDance is not a representative of China” consistently indicated Project Texas, the business’s sweeping strategy to lock down United States users’ information in the United States. Legislators on the committee were doubtful of the strategy, which TikTok authorities have actually stated would do more to secure users than a straight-out restriction.
Chew duplicated numerous times that United States user information would be unattainable to workers in other nations “after Project Texas” is finished later on this year. Still, committee members were doubtful of the strategy, which has actually remained in the works for more than a year. Rodgers called it a “marketing plan,” Representative Frank Pallone stated “Project Texas is merely not appropriate,” and Representative Angie Craig stated the strategy “does not pass the odor test.”
The more than five-hour face-off in between Chew and legislators, who have actually discovered suspicion of TikTok to be an uncommon source of bipartisan contract, comes as United States authorities have actually informed the business it might prohibit the app if it does not different itself from ByteDance.
Similar to previous hearings with social networks executives, legislators pushed Chew for yes or no responses to complicated concerns, and grew disappointed when he decreased to offer one. In one exchange, Representative Tony Cardenas asked Chew whether ByteDance was a Chinese business. He would just confess that it was a “international” company with a Chinese creator. In another, Representative Debbie Lesko asked if he would concur with a declaration that the Chinese federal government maltreats the Uighur population in China. He would just state that “it’s deeply worrying to find out about all the sort of human rights abuse” and attempted to pivot to stating those declarations are permitted on TikTok.
And Chew evaded other concerns about the inner operations of ByteDance and its China-based staff members. He was dramatically slammed for his action to a concern about whether ByteDance workers had actually spied on American reporters. “I do not believe ‘spying’ is the proper way to explain it,” Chew stated. “This is eventually an internal examination.” (TikTok fasted to mention Chew rejected ‘spying’ had actually taken place at the instructions of the Chinese Communist Party.)
The hearing was likewise especially various than previous hearings with other social networks business CEOs since the huge bulk of legislators are not active on TikTok. Not all of their concerns were nuanced. At one point, Representative Richard Hudson required to understand whether TikTok can “access the house WiFi network.” And numerous legislators asked why TikTok’s small amounts practices are various from the aggressive censorship of its Chinese equivalent, Douyin.
Beyond nationwide security issues, numerous legislators likewise raised the problem of teenager security, consisting of TikTok’s material small amounts practices and how it handles viral “obstacles.” Chew typically pointed to current updates like TikTok ‘d addition of a STEM-themed feed, brand-new screentime settings and algorithm tweaks to restrict “recurring patterns” of possibly hazardous material.
After more than 5 hours of questioning, it appeared his statement had not done much to convince the members of the committee that Project Texas will be able to resolve their issues.
In the meantime, TikTok’s future doubts, and even Chew appeared reluctant to hypothesize. Chinese authorities stated Thursday they oppose a sale of TikTok. When asked in the hearing if he concurred with those remarks, Chew rather pointed to Project Texas.”We will require to take a look at this since Project Texas is created to progress here in the United States and we are not discussing this,” he stated.
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