TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew faced a grueling five-hour testimony before a US congressional hearing as lawmakers questioned him over security concerns and the potential influence of the Chinese government. This was Chow’s first appearance before US lawmakers as the TikTok CEO, and the hearing witnessed a rare bipartisan call for banning the app on Thursday.
During the hearing, US lawmakers repeatedly raised concerns over whether the Chinese government had access to TikTok’s millions of users’ data. They also quoted India and other countries that have recently banned TikTok, emphasizing national security concerns.
Chew tried to reassure the lawmakers, stating unequivocally that ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, is not an agent of China or any other country. However, the lawmakers persisted in questioning him, and Chew stated that the risks pointed out were hypothetical and theoretical and that he had not seen any evidence.
US lawmaker Debbie Lesko stressed India’s ban on TikTok and how data of Indian citizens who used TikTok remained accessible to employees at the company and its Beijing-based parent. Chew responded by saying that they are looking into the testimony of the TikTok employee quoted by Forbes and asserted that he disagrees with the conclusions drawn from that article.
In 2020, India banned TikTok and dozens of other Chinese apps over privacy and security concerns. The ban was imposed shortly after a clash between Indian and Chinese troops at the Ladakh border in Galwan Valley LAC where 20 Indian soldiers were killed.
The lawmakers’ relentless questioning of Chew shows the continued concerns over TikTok’s security and potential ties to the Chinese government. While Chew tried to reassure the lawmakers, it remains to be seen whether the concerns raised will lead to a ban on the app in the US.