TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, who testified before the US Congress for the first time, has said the short-video making platform will never share US user data with China. However, the Congress appears more determined to ban TikTok than ever.
Chew, who appeared before dozens of House Energy and Commerce Committee members late on Thursday, offered reassurances that the company would enhance privacy and avoid any possibility of "unauthorised foreign access" to US user data, reports TechCrunch.
"I understand that there are concerns stemming from the inaccurate belief that TikTok's corporate structure makes it beholden to the Chinese government or that it shares information about US users with the Chinese government," Chew said.
"This is emphatically untrue," he told the committee members.
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"Let me state this unequivocally: ByteDance is not an agent of China or any other country," Chew stressed.
In an earlier video, Chew had warned the TikTok community of 150 million Americans about the ban.
"Some politicians have started talking about banning TikTok," Chew said. "Now this could take TikTok away from all 150 million of you."
During the hearing, Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers said that Americans deserve to know the extent to which their privacy is jeopardised and "their data is manipulated by ByteDance-owned TikTok's relationship with China".
"What's worse, we know Big Tech companies, like TikTok, use harmful algorithms to exploit children for profit and expose them to dangerous content online," Rodgers told Chew.
The committee also pressed Chew over measures that TikTok is taking to protect kids on the app.
The Joe Biden administration has reportedly demanded that China-based ByteDance, the owner of TikTok, must sell its stake in the short-video making app or face a possible ban.
A group of 12 US Senators has unveiled a new bill that now has a White House backing and may give President Biden power to ban TikTok nationwide.