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US Congress Summons TikTok’s CEO Over Angst About App

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Dado Ruvic / reuters 

TikTok Chief Executive Officer Shou Zi Chew is billed to be at United States (US) Congress on March 23, 2023, to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Chew, according to Engadget, will discuss the app’s privacy and data security measures, its impact on kids and ties to China (parent company ByteDance is headquartered in the country).

The committee was quoted as having said this will be Chew’s first appearance in front of a congressional panel.

TikTok Chief Operating Officer Vanessa Pappas faced similar questions from lawmakers in September 2022.

“ByteDance-owned TikTok has knowingly allowed the ability for the Chinese Communist Party to access American user data,” Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers said in a statement. “Americans deserve to know how these actions impact their privacy and data security, as well as what actions TikTok is taking to keep our kids safe from online and offline harms. We’ve made our concerns clear with TikTok. It is now time to continue the committee’s efforts to hold Big Tech accountable by bringing TikTok before the committee to provide complete and honest answers for people.”

Engadget has contacted TikTok for comment.

TikTok‘s security and relationship with Chinese authorities have reportedly drawn the attention of US officials over the last few years.

However, as CNBC notes, discussions between the US and TikTok appear to have stalled, as officials remain concerned about the possibility of China forcing it to hand over user data.

The company has tried to placate concerns from regulators and elected officials by storing US user data on domestic Oracle servers and deleting such data from its own servers in the US and Singapore.

Oracle has been reviewing TikTok‘s algorithms and content moderation models for signs of Chinese interference.

Last month, TikTok said that it fired four employees (two each in China and the US) who accessed the data of several journalists.

They were said to be looking for the sources of leaks to reporters.

Also in December 2022, lawmakers passed a mammoth spending bill.

The legislation bans TikTok from Federal Government-owned devices.

More than half of all states have implemented similar bans on local government devices.

Meanwhile, senators and members of Congress have renewed efforts to ban TikTok in the US entirely.

News of Chew’s appearance before the panel comes on Data Privacy Day.

In a blog post, TikTok laid out some of its efforts to bolster user privacy, including a plan to set up a data centre in Dublin, Ireland, this year to store United Kingdom (UK) and European Economic Area data.

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