Tik Tok Hearing

March 23, 2023
A photo of a phone with the TikTok app open

With a lot of respect, American social companies don’t have a good track record with data privacy and user security.

TikTok CEO Shou Chew said during his questioning by Congress members on TikTok data security and privacy.

Background: TikTok is "wholly and privately owned" by Chinese technology company, ByteDance (Investopedia). This has made U.S. lawmakers concerned regarding any potential leverage the Chinese government could have over TikTok and how that impacts the private data of U.S. users. TikTok currently has 150 million monthly users in the U.S., and both Democratic and Republican lawmakers have called for a ban of the app in the U.S.

Big Picture: TikTok CEO Shou Chew appeared in front of Congress on Thursday for questioning by House Energy and Commerce Committee members on the privacy and safety of the social media app. Democratic and Republican lawmakers alike questioned the influence of the Chinese Communist Party on TikTok's decision-making and data collection, as well as its safety for teenagers. While Chew stated that he has "seen no evidence that the Chinese government has access to that [U.S. user] data," Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) stated, "I find that actually preposterous."

Data Collection: Chew stated that TikTok's practices are no different than U.S. tech companies and that the data it collects is "frequently collected by many other companies in our industry.” However, he also said employees at Chinese company ByteDance could still have access to some U.S. data at this time, noting that this will no longer be the case once TikTok's mitigation plan – "Project Texas" – is complete. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) said this project is "not acceptable."

TikTok CEO says China-based ByteDance employees still have access to some U.S. data (CNBC)

TikTok now has 150 million active users in the U.S., CEO to tell Congress (NBC News)

by Jenna Lee,