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

Shou Zi Chew

As the Biden government considers banning TikTok in the United States, its CEO, Shou Zi Chew, appeared before Congress on Thursday, March 23, 2023, to ensure people that the app presents no national security danger. Zi Chew, the social media platform’s CEO since April 2021, testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee:

“To state unequivocally: ByteDance is not a Chinese or any other country’s agent.”

Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers stated during the meeting that the social media platform prompted worries about “potential foreign influence on American life.” Meanwhile, Democrat Frank Pallone criticized TikTok for spreading disinformation and questioned the company’s data-gathering practices. The CEO responded by stating that TikTok is a Singaporean business managed by a Singaporean. He stated that the app has over 150 million members in the nation who use it for a variety of reasons such as leisure and instruction.

Chew alluded to Project Texas, an effort by the organization to transfer all of its US data to local computers and erase any and all user data, to reassure the Committee that national security is of the highest importance. He predicted that the job would be finished by the end of the year.

What did the CEO of TikTok say to the House Energy and Commerce Committee?

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

Shou Zi Chew told the panel in his testimony that Project Texas is a $1.5 billion security project that began last month to delete all user data, and that any US-generated data is already being kept in an Oracle cloud-based server. He added, ”

“There is no way for the Chinese government to access or compel access to it under this structure.”

Shou Zi Chew

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

In addition to Project Texas, the CEO promised the panel:

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

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

Many TikTok users and organizations are against the prohibition.

Users have been sharing their thoughts on the prohibition as it has gained prominence this week. Many people believe that the committee was more concerned with banning a thriving outside business than with security and privacy concerns.

Shou Zi Chew

While TikTok’s destiny remains uncertain, many civil rights and data security organizations have advocated against the prohibition. 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 prohibition would infringe on their fundamental rights to free speech.