WASHINGTON (AP) — The CEO of TikTok will make a high-profile look Thursday earlier than a U.S. Congressional committee, the place he’ll face a grilling on knowledge safety and person security whereas he makes his personal case for why the vastly well-liked video-sharing app should not be banned.
Shou Zi Chew’s testimony comes at an important time for the corporate, which has acquired 150 million American customers however is underneath rising stress from U.S. officers. TikTok and its mother or father firm ByteDance have been swept up in a wider geopolitical battle between Beijing and Washington over commerce and know-how.
Chew, a 40-year-old Singapore native, is making a uncommon public look to counter the volley of accusations that TikTok has been going through. On Wednesday, the corporate despatched dozens of well-liked TikTokers to Capitol Hill to lobby lawmakers to protect the platform. It has additionally been placing up advertisements throughout Washington that tout guarantees of securing customers knowledge and privateness and making a secure platform for its younger customers.
Chew plans to inform the U.S. Home Committee on Power and Commerce that TikTok prioritizes the protection of its younger customers and deny allegations that the app is a national security risk, in keeping with his ready remarks launched forward of the listening to.
TikTok has been dogged by claims that its Chinese language possession means person knowledge may find yourself within the palms of the Chinese language authorities or that it could possibly be used to advertise narratives favorable to the nation’s Communist leaders.
“We perceive the recognition of Tiktok, we get that,” mentioned White Home press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre at a press convention Wednesday afternoon. “However the President’s job is to verify once more that the People, nationwide safety is protected as properly. ”
For its half, TikTok has been attempting to distance itself from its Chinese language origins, saying that 60% % of its mother or father firm ByteDance is owned by international institutional buyers similar to Carlyle Group. ByteDance was based by Chinese language entrepreneurs in Beijing in 2012.
“Let me state this unequivocally: ByteDance will not be an agent of China or every other nation,” Chew mentioned.
A U.S. ban on an app could be unprecedented and it’s unclear how the federal government would go about imposing it.
Specialists says officers may attempt to pressure Apple and Google to take away TikTok from their app shops, stopping new customers from downloading it in addition to stopping current customers from updating it, finally rendering it ineffective.
The U.S. may additionally block entry to TikTok’s infrastructure and knowledge, seize its domains or pressure web service suppliers like Comcast and Verizon to filter TikTok knowledge site visitors, mentioned Ahmed Ghappour, a prison regulation and laptop safety skilled who academics at Boston College Faculty of Regulation.
However a tech savvy person may nonetheless get round restrictions through the use of a digital personal community to make it seem the person is overseas the place it isn’t blocked, he mentioned.
To keep away from a ban, TikTok has been attempting to promote officers on a $1.5 billion plan called Project Texas, which routes all U.S. person knowledge to home servers owned and maintained by software program big Oracle. Below the undertaking, entry to U.S. knowledge is managed by U.S. staff by a separate entity referred to as TikTok U.S. Knowledge Safety, which employs 1,500 folks, is run independently of ByteDance and could be monitored by exterior observers.
As of October, all new U.S. person knowledge was being saved contained in the nation. The corporate began deleting all historic U.S. person knowledge from non-Oracle servers this month, in a course of anticipated to be accomplished later this 12 months, Chew mentioned.
Numerous Western nations together with Denmark, Canada, and New Zealand, together with the European Union, have already banned TikTok from devices issued to authorities staff, citing cybersecurity issues.
Within the U.S., the federal authorities, Congress, the armed forces and greater than half of states have banned the app from official gadgets.
David Kennedy, a former authorities intelligence officer who runs the cybersecurity firm TrustedSec, agrees with proscribing TikTok entry on government-issued telephones as a result of they could include delicate navy data or different confidential materials. A nationwide ban, nonetheless, is likely to be too excessive, he mentioned. He additionally questioned the place it’d lead.
“Now we have Tesla in China, we’ve Microsoft in China, we’ve Apple in China. Are they going to begin banning us now?” Kennedy mentioned. “It may escalate in a short time.”
Chan reported from London.