x

Society

TikTok CEO Faces off with Congress over Security Fears

WASHINGTON — The CEO of TikTok will make a high-profile appearance Thursday before a U.S. Congressional committee, where he’ll face a grilling on data security and user safety while he makes his own case for why the hugely popular video-sharing app shouldn’t be banned.

Shou Zi Chew’s testimony comes at a crucial time for the company, which has acquired 150 million American users but is under increasing pressure from U.S. officials. TikTok and its parent company ByteDance have been swept up in a wider geopolitical battle between Beijing and Washington over trade and technology.

Chew, a 40-year-old Singapore native, is making a rare public appearance to counter the volley of accusations that TikTok has been facing. On Wednesday, the company sent dozens of popular TikTokers to Capitol Hill to lobby lawmakers to preserve the platform. It has also been putting up ads all over Washington that tout promises of securing users data and privacy and creating a safe platform for its young users.

Chew plans to tell the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce that TikTok prioritizes the safety of its young users and deny allegations that the app is a national security risk, according to his prepared remarks released ahead of the hearing.

TikTok has been dogged by claims that its Chinese ownership means user data could end up in the hands of the Chinese government or that it could be used to promote narratives favorable to the country’s Communist leaders.

“We understand the popularity of Tiktok, we get that,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre at a press conference Wednesday afternoon. “But the President’s job is to make sure again that the Americans, national security is protected as well. ”

For its part, TikTok has been trying to distance itself from its Chinese origins, saying that 60% percent of its parent company ByteDance is owned by global institutional investors such as Carlyle Group. ByteDance was founded by Chinese entrepreneurs in Beijing in 2012.

“Let me state this unequivocally: ByteDance is not an agent of China or any other country,” Chew said.

A U.S. ban on an app would be unprecedented and it’s unclear how the government would go about enforcing it.

Experts says officials could try to force Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores, preventing new users from downloading it as well as preventing existing users from updating it, ultimately rendering it useless.

The U.S. could also block access to TikTok’s infrastructure and data, seize its domain names or force internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon to filter TikTok data traffic, said Ahmed Ghappour, a criminal law and computer security expert who teachers at Boston University School of Law.

But a tech savvy user could still get around restrictions by using a virtual private network to make it appear the user is in another country where it’s not blocked, he said.

To avoid a ban, TikTok has been trying to sell officials on a $1.5 billion plan called Project Texas, which routes all U.S. user data to domestic servers owned and maintained by software giant Oracle. Under the project, access to U.S. data is managed by U.S. employees through a separate entity called TikTok U.S. Data Security, which employs 1,500 people, is run independently of ByteDance and would be monitored by outside observers.

As of October, all new U.S. user data was being stored inside the country. The company started deleting all historic U.S. user data from non-Oracle servers this month, in a process expected to be completed later this year, Chew said.

A number of Western countries including Denmark, Canada, and New Zealand, along with the European Union, have already banned TikTok from devices issued to government employees, citing cybersecurity concerns.

In the U.S., the federal government, Congress, the armed forces and more than half of states have banned the app from official devices.

David Kennedy, a former government intelligence officer who runs the cybersecurity company TrustedSec, agrees with restricting TikTok access on government-issued phones because they might contain sensitive military information or other confidential material. A nationwide ban, however, might be too extreme, he said. He also wondered where it might lead.

“We have Tesla in China, we have Microsoft in China, we have Apple in China. Are they going to start banning us now?” Kennedy said. “It could escalate very quickly.”

 

RELATED

NEW YORK  — Two jurors in Donald Trump's hush money trial were dismissed Thursday, one after expressing doubt about her ability to be fair following disclosure of details about her identity and the other over concerns that some of his answers in court may have been inaccurate.

Top Stories

Columnists

A pregnant woman was driving in the HOV lane near Dallas.

General News

NEW YORK – Meropi Kyriacou, the new Principal of The Cathedral School in Manhattan, was honored as The National Herald’s Educator of the Year.

Video

9 Are Facing Charges in What Police in Canada Say is the Biggest Gold Theft in the Country’s History

TORONTO (AP) — Police said nine people are facing charges in what authorities are calling the biggest gold theft in Canadian history from Toronto’s Pearson International airport a year ago.

NEW YORK – Greek-American billionaire John Catsimatidis said that “his firm Red Apple Group is looking to make ‘green’ energy affordable by developing a new breed of small nuclear reactors — and the company has hired a seasoned energy executive to lead the effort,” the New York Post reported on April 17.

WASHINGTON, DC – The 3rd Nikos Mouyiaris Memorial Lecture which had been scheduled for April 20 at Rutgers University in New Jersey will be rescheduled for the fall of 2024 as the organizers received a call from U.

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – Greek-American Maria Passalaris, 25, was tragically killed in a car accident on April 12 on Highway 1 near Princeton, NJ.

The recent tragicomic events at the church of the All-Holy Taxiarhes in the area of Megalo Revma of Constantinople, specifically, the assault by Archimandrite Chrysanthos on Metropolitan Athenagoras of Kydonion which involved the slapping of the archpriest's cheeks while he was venerating the icon of the Virgin Mary, are not only lamentable but also pitiful for the Patriarchate itself.

Enter your email address to subscribe

Provide your email address to subscribe. For e.g. [email protected]

You may unsubscribe at any time using the link in our newsletter.