The US accusations against ByteDance being linked to China are deemed baseless.
REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, JAKARTA — TikTok CEO Shou Chew told United States (US) lawmakers there are many misconceptions about the app and banning it will damage the country’s economy. He also plans to tell the allegations about parent company ByteDance and its ties to the Chinese government are baseless.
“Let me state this unequivocally that ByteDance is not an agent of China or any other country,” Chew said in written remarks released by the House Energy and Commerce Committee ahead of Thursday’s hearing.
US officials recently advised that TikTok could be banned in the US if ByteDance does not divest from the company. Members of both parties have supported a bill that would empower President Joe Biden and other officials in his administration to ban the app.
Reported by Engadget, Thursday (23/3/2023), much of Chew’s written testimony is similar to the arguments TikTok has made over the years. He detailed the app’s security features, particularly those aimed at teens and Project Texas, TikTok’s billion-dollar attempt to lock down US users’ data.
“Earlier this month, we began the process of deleting protected US user data history. We hope this process will be completed by the end of this year. “Under this structure, there is no way for the Chinese government to access it or force access to it,” he said.
Chew’s written testimony also revealed four former ByteDance employees used TikTok to access the data of US journalists. The incident, which has further fueled lawmakers’ concerns about TikTok, has reportedly prompted a Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation.
“I condemn this misconduct in the strongest terms possible,” Chew wrote, noting that the company is conducting an investigation with an outside law firm.
However, what stood out the most were Chew’s comments about China. He said accusations that TikTok was answerable to the Chinese government were completely untrue and described ByteDance as a global company founded by Chinese entrepreneurs.
Regardless, lawmakers are likely to investigate Chew in depth about TikTok’s ties to ByteDance and China and whether the company can be trusted to protect US users.