TikTok Criticized For Surveilling American Users in 2023

Shou Chew, chief executive officer of TikTok Inc., during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing in Washington, DC, US, on Thursday.(Bloomberg)
Shou Chew, chief executive officer of TikTok Inc., during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing in Washington, DC, US, on Thursday.(Bloomberg)

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew faced tough questioning from members of Congress on Thursday, with both Republicans and Democrats criticizing the Chinese-owned app for allegedly surveilling American users.

Concerns over TikTok’s parent company ByteDance and its potential national security threat have been raised by the Biden administration, with a possible ban on the app looming.

TikTok refused to acknowledge Genocide

Republican Alabama Representative Gary Palmer questioned Chew on the app’s censorship of posts about the internment of Uyghur Muslims in China. TikTok executive Michael Beckerman refused to acknowledge the genocide and concentration camps of Muslims during a December appearance on CNN.

Palmer asked why Beckerman could not condemn China’s treatment of the Uyghurs, which has been classified as genocide by the United States and a crime against humanity by the UN. He also asked if the company was afraid of the Chinese Communist government, which Chew denied.

Republican Florida Representative Kat Cammack questioned Chew on his “regular contact” with Zhang Fuping, the editor-in-chief of ByteDance and the parent company’s Chinese Communist Party committee secretary.

Chew denied having regular contact with Fuping but admitted to having frequent contact with ByteDance’s CEO. Cammack then pressed him on ByteDance’s ability to access user data on the app, which Chew said was too general a question.

Cammack pointed to a memo from TikTok headquarters that told management to “downplay” ByteDance’s association with the CCP, which Chew denied ever seeing.

Cammack also played a video posted to TikTok that threatened violence against the committee chairwoman, Cathy McMorris Rodgers. The video appeared to violate the app’s community guidelines against threats or incitement of violence.

According to Daily Caller, Cammack criticized the company’s ability to maintain data security and privacy for 150 million Americans when it could not protect people in the room. She argued that TikTok was an extension of the CCP and could not protect users’ data or security.

Democratic California Representative Anna Eshoo criticized Chew’s claim that there is no evidence of the Chinese government accessing American users’ data. Chew responded that the plan is to move American data to be stored on American soil.

Eshoo cut him off, saying she hadn’t seen any evidence that the Chinese government does not have access to TikTok data.

Rodgers questioned Chew on a report that ByteDance used TikTok data to surveil journalists covering the company in 2022. Chew disagreed with the characterization of “spying” and declined to answer Republican Arizona Representative Debbie Lesko’s question on whether China is persecuting Uyghur Muslims.

The hearing highlights ongoing concerns over the potential national security threat posed by TikTok’s Chinese parent company, with lawmakers questioning the app’s ability to protect user data and security.

TikTok has repeatedly denied sharing data with the Chinese government and has emphasized its commitment to transparency and data privacy.

However, the app’s alleged censorship and association with the CCP have raised questions about its ability to operate in the United States without posing a national security risk.



Source: theGazetteNGR

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