Social media app TikTok has never shared U.S. user data with the Chinese government, or received a request to share it. The subsidiary of the Chinese company Bytedance would also not honour such a request if it ever happened.
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew will explain this to a US Congressional Committee on Thursday. “Let me say this unequivocally: Bytedance is not a spy of China or any other country,” a written statement from Singapore’s Chew said.
It is the first time that the TikTok CEO has appeared before a committee of the US Congress. He does so because of growing concerns about the Chinese app. As in the Netherlands, American politicians, especially Republicans, fear that TikTok is sharing data with the Chinese government and using the app for propaganda and manipulation.
TikTok has been under fire worldwide for a long time because of its ties to the Chinese government and the wealth of information the app collects about its users. Recently, the US Commission on foreign investment (CFIUS) even demanded that ByteDance sell TikTok or that TikTok be banned in the US.
The issue creates tensions between the US and the Chinese government. The U.S. must stop “unjustified attacks” on TikTok, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said earlier this month. According to him, Washington “has so far not provided any evidence” for the allegations.
TikTok wants to take measures to reassure US
TikTok itself believes that a forced sale does not offer a solution at all. The social media company would like to take measures to address concerns within the US about national security. That plan includes engaging U.S. tech company Oracle to manage U.S. user data and appointing a U.S.-approved supervisory board. According to Chew, TikTok has already spent $ 1.5 billion on the measures. In the US, 1,500 employees are said to have been called in to implement the plans.