The first-ever appearance of TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew in the US Congress has recently sparked a heated debate among the global public about whether TikTok would be banned in the US. The final judgment has not yet been made, but the five-hour hearing provides spectators with insights into American fears about national security, as well as Tiktok's firm assurance regarding its independence from the Chinese government.
Here are the five biggest key takeaways from the TikTok hearing in Congress:
1. US Congressman has already made up their minds about Tiktok
During the hearing, it became clear that some US lawmakers had already made up their minds about TikTok. The lawmakers expressed concerns about TikTok's data collection practices and their ties to the Chinese government. Some of the concerns raised include the possibility that TikTok could be used to collect sensitive information on American citizens, and that the Chinese government could potentially use this information for its own purposes. The lawmakers also expressed concerns over the lack of transparency in TikTok's data collection practices.
2. TikTok's assurances on data privacy and security
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew from TikTok assured the committee that they are committed to protecting user data and that they do not share data with the Chinese government. They also emphasized that TikTok stores US user data in the US, with backup redundancy in Singapore, and that their data centers are located entirely outside of China. TikTok's representatives also stated that they have implemented strict data access controls and that they regularly audit their systems for vulnerabilities.
3. TikTok CEO affirmation of their independence from the Chinese Government
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew confirmed that TikTok operates independently from the Chinese government and that the company's primary goal is to provide entertainment to its users. He also emphasized that the company's decision-making process is independent and that the company's US operations are not subject to Chinese law. Chew also stated that TikTok is committed to being transparent about its policies and practices, and that the company is open to working with regulators to address concerns about the app's data collection practices.
4. Youth safety and mental health concerns
During the hearing, lawmakers also expressed concerns about the potential negative impact of TikTok on youth safety and mental health. Specifically, they raised concerns about the platform's addictive nature, potential exposure to harmful content, and the risk of cyberbullying. TikTok's representatives acknowledged these concerns and stated that the company has implemented measures to address them, such as providing resources for users to report harmful content and partnering with mental health organizations to promote positive mental health practices.
5. A possible national ban
Despite TikTok's assurances, some US lawmakers remain unconvinced about the app's safety and have called for a national ban. If the US government decides to ban TikTok, it would join India, which has already banned the app over similar concerns. However, other lawmakers have expressed concerns about the potential consequences of a ban, such as an impact on US businesses and the potential for retaliation from China.
The debate surrounding TikTok's safety and its ties to the Chinese government has been ongoing for several years. In 2020, former President Donald Trump threatened to ban TikTok in the US over national security concerns. However, the ban was never implemented, and the app has continued to operate in the US. The recent hearing in Congress has once again brought this issue to the forefront of public debate, and it remains to be seen what action the US government will take regarding TikTok's future in the country.