June 6, 2023

TikTok Chief Executive Zhou Shou will testify before Congress for the first time on Thursday, an appearance expected to reflect U.S. lawmakers’ growing distrust of the short-video app’s Chinese ownership.

The hearing, which will take place at 10 a.m. ahead of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, will give lawmakers a rare opportunity to address Mr. Chew directly about TikTok’s relationship with its Chinese owner, ByteDance, and the app’s handling of sensitive U.S. information. ask questions. User data and the risks it may pose to teens and children.

TikTok is trying to secure its future in the US, one of its biggest markets, where it claims 150 million users and has become a cultural creation machine. But lawmakers have raised questions about ByteDance’s ties to the Chinese government and whether those ties would put TikTok’s U.S. user data into the hands of Beijing officials. U.S. intelligence officials, including FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, have also warned that the Chinese government could use TikTok’s algorithms for “influence operations.”

Originally hailed as China’s first global internet success story, TikTok has become a proxy for a growing divide between the United States and China over technological leadership and national security. The app has become a battleground in a technological cold war between the two countries, with the U.S. threatening to ban TikTok reminiscent of how China has long blocked many U.S. platforms.

To continue operating in the U.S. under ByteDance’s ownership, TikTok has sought approval from a group of federal agencies known as the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) for a plan dubbed “Project Texas.” The plan outlines how TikTok will prevent the Chinese government from accessing U.S. user data or interfering with content recommendations, under the watchful eye of government-approved officials and third-party auditors.

The plan has not yet been approved. Last week, news emerged that the Biden administration wanted TikTok’s Chinese ownership to sell the app or face a possible ban.

China said on Thursday it would “resolutely oppose” the forced sale of TikTok. A spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce said at a news conference that such a sale would “seriously undermine the confidence of investors from all over the world, including China, to invest in the United States.”

In the absence of a solution, more than two dozen US states, several universities and Congress have imposed bans on TikTok in recent months. The White House also recently supported a bipartisan Senate bill that would give the government more powers to deal with TikTok, including a possible ban.

At Thursday’s hearing, Mr Chow, a Singaporean who continues to live in the country, may also be asked about ByteDance’s surveillance of American journalists, which the Justice Department has been investigating. The company acknowledged in December that ByteDance’s Chinese employees retrieved sensitive data on U.S. TikTok users, including journalists, in an attempt to find vulnerabilities.

On Tuesday, Mr. Zhou posted a Tik Tok to the company’s main account, which has 69.2 million followers. He called the moment a “moment of truth” and said TikTok might disappear, but he would testify about the app’s efforts to protect Americans. He asked users to share their love of TikTok in the comments. After weeks of recruiting, TikTok also flew dozens of creators to Washington and held a press conference with them.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is chaired by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers, a Washington Republican.

Zhang Che Contribution report.

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