TikTok’s chief executive, Show Chew, will testify in Congress for the first time on Thursday, expected to reflect US lawmakers’ distrust of Chinese ownership of the short-form video app.
The hearing, which begins at 10 a.m. before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, will give lawmakers a rare opportunity to ask Mr. Chew direct questions about his dealings with TikTok’s Chinese owner, ByteDance, and USI’s handling of the app. User data and the risks it may pose to teenagers and children.
TikTok is working to secure its future in one of its biggest markets, the US, where it has 150 million users and has become a culture-making engine. But lawmakers have questions about ByteDance’s ties to the Chinese government and whether TikTok’s U.S. user data could end up in the hands of Beijing authorities. FBI Director Christopher A. US intelligence officials like Wray have warned that the Chinese government could use TikTok’s algorithm for “influence operations”.
TikTok, initially hailed as China’s first global internet success story, represents a growing divide between the US and China over technology leadership and national security. The app has become a battleground in the tech cold war between the two countries, with US threats to ban TikTok reminiscent of how China has long blocked many US platforms.
To continue operating in the US under the Byte Dance franchise, TikTok has sought approval from a panel of federal agencies known as the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, for a project called Project Texas. The plan outlines how TikTok will prevent the Chinese government from accessing US user data or interfering with content recommendations, with oversight from government-authorized officials and third-party auditors.
Project not approved. Last week, the Biden administration wanted TikTok’s Chinese franchise to sell the app or face a possible ban.
China said on Thursday it would “resolutely oppose” the forced sale of TikTok. A Commerce Department spokesman told a news conference that such a sale would “severely undermine the confidence of investors from various countries, including China, to invest in the United States.”
In the absence of a solution, more than two dozen US states, several colleges and Congress have enacted bans on TikTok in recent months. The White House recently backed a bipartisan Senate bill that would give the administration more power to deal with TikTok, including a possible ban.
During Thursday’s hearing, Singapore native Mr. Chew, who continues to live in the country, may also be questioned about Byte Dance’s surveillance of American journalists, which is under investigation by the Justice Department. The company admitted in December that Byte Dance employees from China tried to leak sensitive data of US TikTok users, including journalists.
On Tuesday, Mr. Posted by Chev TikTok to the company’s main account, which has 69.2 million followers. He called the moment “pivotal” and said TikTok may be gone, but he will testify about the app’s efforts to protect Americans. He asked users to share what they love about TikTok in the comments. TikTok sent dozens of creators to Washington after weeks of recruiting and held news conferences with them.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee is chaired by Washington Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers.
Chang Che Contributed report.