TikTok CEO promises Congress a firewall against CCP access

Key Speakers at the Day Two of the Bloomberg New Economy Forum
Shou Zi Chew, chief executive officer of TikTok Inc., speaks with Reto Gregori, deputy editor-in-chief, Bloomberg Editorial and Research, during the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore, on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. (Bryan van der Beek/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

TikTok CEO promises Congress a firewall against CCP access

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TikTok’s CEO will promise Congress that the company will maintain a firewall between U.S. user data and the Chinese Communist Party, an effort to stave off a ban on the app by increasingly skeptical legislators.

CEO Shou Zi Chew stated in a draft of his testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee that the company would uphold a digital barrier to protect U.S. user privacy and security. This includes ensuring that foreign entities such as China cannot access U.S. user data.

The TikTok CEO is scheduled to be questioned by the panel on Thursday over the app’s privacy practices, relations to the Chinese Communist Party, and how it handles child safety online.

“TikTok will remain a platform for free expression and will not be manipulated by any government,” Chew stated in his prepared remarks. “There are more than 150 million Americans who love our platform, and we know we have a responsibility to protect them.”

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In defending TikTok, Chew cited Project Texas, the platform’s efforts to localize U.S. user data by storing them in Oracle-owned servers. There, the data will be kept out of the access of Chinese employees and moderated by local staff. Discussions with the government regarding Project Texas are ongoing, Chew said, but he said that the company has invested $1.5 billion into the project already.

Chew asked TikTok users in a video on Tuesday to defend the platform, imploring them to tell Congress about how much they loved TikTok.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, an interdepartmental agency that reviews U.S. sanctions with international businesses, demanded that Chinese parent company ByteDance sell its stake in TikTok or risk being banned.

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Members of Congress have proposed several measures to restrict TikTok in the U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has written a bill to ban the app outright, and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) has introduced legislation to provide extra powers to the Commerce Department to analyze and determine if foreign business deals are security risks.

TikTok has responded by expanding its efforts to lobby in Washington. The social media company now has the fourth-highest federal lobbying expenses of any internet company, according to OpenSecrets, a nonpartisan platform tracking political spending.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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