As TikTok fights against a possible ban in the United States, its chief executive of TikTok has admitted that users’ data could be accessed by its Chinese parent.
Shou Zi Chew, a member of the US Congress, told the House Energy and Commerce Committee in bruising US Congress that TikTok users’ data is currently available to staff in China.
He stated that “We depend on global interoperability” and that he had employees in China. Therefore, the Chinese engineers have access to global data.
The TikTok chief did not win the support of Congress in a heated session. Members of Congress are now considering whether to grant Joe Biden the power to ban the app.
Cathy McMorris Rodgers was the Republican chairman. She stated: “Your platform must be banned. The CCP [Chinese Communist Party] TikTok is an instrument to spy on you and manipulate what you see in order to exploit future generations.
Neal Dunn, Congressman, stated that “we don’t consider you credible on those things.” Mr Chew complained that “you have given me no time for these questions; I reject such characterisations.”
Singaporean-based Mr Chew told Congress members that he hadn’t spoken with a Chinese official since he took over two years ago and that there was no evidence that TikTok users data had been accessed.
When asked if ByteDance (TikTok’s parent company), was able to spy upon staff, he replied: “I don’t think spying is the best way to describe it.”
ByteDance employees in China won’t have access to US users data by the end the year, according to Mr Chew. This is after the company has completed a $1.5bn plan (1.2bn), to transfer data to IT giant Oracle. However, the company has not made similar promises regarding data from European and UK users.
TikTok has been informed by the US government that it will ban it from the US if not spun off by its Chinese shareholders.
China threatened to stop a forced sale of the app on Thursday. It stated that it would “firmly resist” the Biden administration’s plan to seize the viral video app from Chinese hands.
According to the commerce ministry, such a move could affect international investors’ confidence and trust in the US. A ministry spokesperson said that China would firmly resist such a move if the news was true.
Chew repeatedly refused questions about whether he agreed that China’s Uyghur minority is being repressed by the Chinese government.
He stated that he didn’t believe any social media apps should ever be allowed to access government phones in response to TikTok’s ban.
On Thursday, Parliament announced that it would take TikTok off all phones issued by House of Commons or House of Lords and also block it from Wi Fi networks, , following a ban placed on Government devices last week.