Bahama Times

Sunday, Oct 01, 2023

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew's Congress showdown: Five takeaways

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew's Congress showdown: Five takeaways

Bruising, damaging, relentless. TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew faced four-and-a-half hours of questioning at a US congressional hearing on Thursday.

As one congressman pointed out, some people run marathons quicker than that.

Mr Chew will certainly be feeling it, after a torrid time giving evidence. Many tech execs have stood before Congress, and they often don't get an easy ride.

But what was exceptional about this hearing was the stubborn, never-ending line of vicious questioning.

From both Democrats and Republicans, there was no let-up. A spokesperson for TikTok said afterwards the politicians were "grandstanding". There is most certainly some truth to that. But between the sometimes frustratingly verbose questioning, we did learn a thing or two.


1. Legislators were united against TikTok


There was criticism of TikTok from Republicans and Democrats, and the level of distrust and scepticism from all sides was stark.

"Welcome to the most bipartisan committee in Congress," said Republican congressman Buddy Carter.

"Thank you, Mr Chew, for bringing Republicans and Democrats together," said Dan Crenshaw, a Republican.

It was really quite something to see so many politicians - who agree on practically nothing - agreeing wholeheartedly that TikTok was a security threat.

TikTok complained afterwards that not enough time had been spent focusing on the platform's measures to keep data safe.

"Also not mentioned today by members of the committee: the livelihoods of the five million businesses on TikTok or the [US Constitution] First Amendment implications of banning a platform loved by 150 million Americans," a TikTok spokesperson said.


2. ByteDance engineers in China have access to some US data


Mr Chew kept talking about a "Project Texas", a proposal which will see it store all data in the US under the watch of American firm Oracle.

However, Project Texas is not fully operational. As of now, Mr Chew confirmed that engineers at ByteDance - TikTok's parent company - do have access to data.

"We rely on global interoperability, Chinese engineers have access to data," he said.

It was an admission that politicians kept coming back to. Their point was that if data can be accessed by engineers in China, it's hard to see how the Chinese government couldn't also access it.

On Friday, China's foreign ministry repeated its claim that it does not ask companies to provide data or intelligence located in other countries.


3. Chew has shares in ByteDance


Perhaps Mr Chew's least successful defence was his attempt to distance TikTok from ByteDance.

By any definition, the Chinese company owns TikTok. Mr Chew himself used to be ByteDance's chief financial officer.

When initially asked, Mr Chew didn't want to say whether he owned shares in ByteDance. Pressed by lawmakers, he eventually said he did, but tried to downplay the connection.

China's government says it would oppose any US plan to force ByteDance to sell TikTok - something authorities are reportedly considering.


4. Chew's children do not use TikTok


At one point in the hearing, Mr Chew was asked by congresswoman Nanette Barragán, a Democrat, whether or not his own children used TikTok.

He said they didn't because they live in Singapore. In that country the version of the app for children younger than 13 is not available.

Mr Chew did clarify that the children's version of the app is available in the US, and he would let his children use it if they were in America.


5. What about Cambridge Analytica?


Mr Chew generally pulled his punches. He didn't often take the fight back to members of Congress. But there were rare moments where he did push back - and effectively.

When quizzed on TikTok's use of user data, he said: "With all due respect, American companies don't have a great track record with data … Just look at Facebook and Cambridge Analytica."

It was a barbed comment, but a reasonable point to make.

Harvesting of Facebook users' personal information by Cambridge Analytica, a British political consultancy, and other third-party apps caused uproar when it emerged in 2018.

Newsletter

Related Articles

Bahama Times
Close
0:00
0:00
Paper straws found to contain long-lasting and potentially toxic chemicals - study
FTX's Bankman-Fried headed for jail after judge revokes bail
Blackrock gets half a trillion dollar deal to rebuild Ukraine
Israel: Unprecedented Civil Disobedience Looms as IDF Reservists Protest Judiciary Reform
America's First New Nuclear Reactor in Nearly Seven Years Begins Operations
Southeast Asia moves closer to economic unity with new regional payments system
Today Hunter Biden’s best friend and business associate, Devon Archer, testified that Joe Biden met in Georgetown with Russian Moscow Mayor's Wife Yelena Baturina who later paid Hunter Biden $3.5 million in so called “consulting fees”
Singapore Carries Out First Execution of a Woman in Two Decades Amid Capital Punishment Debate
Google testing journalism AI. We are doing it already 2 years, and without Google biased propoganda and manipulated censorship
Unlike illegal imigrants coming by boats - US Citizens Will Need Visa To Travel To Europe in 2024
Musk announces Twitter name and logo change to X.com
The politician and the journalist lost control and started fighting on live broadcast.
The future of sports
Unveiling the Black Hole: The Mysterious Fate of EU's Aid to Ukraine
Farewell to a Music Titan: Tony Bennett, Renowned Jazz and Pop Vocalist, Passes Away at 96
Alarming Behavior Among Florida's Sharks Raises Concerns Over Possible Cocaine Exposure
Transgender Exclusion in Miss Italy Stirs Controversy Amidst Changing Global Beauty Pageant Landscape
Joe Biden admitted, in his own words, that he delivered what he promised in exchange for the $10 million bribe he received from the Ukraine Oil Company.
TikTok Takes On Spotify And Apple, Launches Own Music Service
Global Trend: Using Anti-Fake News Laws as Censorship Tools - A Deep Dive into Tunisia's Scenario
Arresting Putin During South African Visit Would Equate to War Declaration, Asserts President Ramaphosa
Hacktivist Collective Anonymous Launches 'Project Disclosure' to Unearth Information on UFOs and ETIs
Typo sends millions of US military emails to Russian ally Mali
Server Arrested For Theft After Refusing To Pay A Table's $100 Restaurant Bill When They Dined & Dashed
The Changing Face of Europe: How Mass Migration is Reshaping the Political Landscape
China Urges EU to Clarify Strategic Partnership Amid Trade Tensions
Europe is boiling: Extreme Weather Conditions Prevail Across the Continent
The Last Pour: Anchor Brewing, America's Pioneer Craft Brewer, Closes After 127 Years
Democracy not: EU's Digital Commissioner Considers Shutting Down Social Media Platforms Amid Social Unrest
Sarah Silverman and Renowned Authors Lodge Copyright Infringement Case Against OpenAI and Meta
Italian Court's Controversial Ruling on Sexual Harassment Ignites Uproar
Why Do Tech Executives Support Kennedy Jr.?
The New York Times Announces Closure of its Sports Section in Favor of The Athletic
BBC Anchor Huw Edwards Hospitalized Amid Child Sex Abuse Allegations, Family Confirms
Florida Attorney General requests Meta CEO's testimony on company's platforms' alleged facilitation of illicit activities
The Distorted Mirror of actual approval ratings: Examining the True Threat to Democracy Beyond the Persona of Putin
40,000 child slaves in Congo are forced to work in cobalt mines so we can drive electric cars.
BBC Personalities Rebuke Accusations Amidst Scandal Involving Teen Exploitation
A Swift Disappointment: Why Is Taylor Swift Bypassing Canada on Her Global Tour?
Historic Moment: Edgars Rinkevics, EU's First Openly Gay Head of State, Takes Office as Latvia's President
Bye bye democracy, human rights, freedom: French Cops Can Now Secretly Activate Phone Cameras, Microphones And GPS To Spy On Citizens
The Poor Man With Money, Mark Zuckerberg, Unveils Twitter Replica with Heavy-Handed Censorship: A New Low in Innovation?
Unilever Plummets in a $2.5 Billion Free Fall, to begin with: A Reckoning for Misuse of Corporate Power Against National Interest
Beyond the Blame Game: The Need for Nuanced Perspectives on America's Complex Reality
Twitter Targets Meta: A Tangle of Trade Secrets and Copycat Culture
The Double-Edged Sword of AI: AI is linked to layoffs in industry that created it
US Sanctions on China's Chip Industry Backfire, Prompting Self-Inflicted Blowback
Meta Copy Twitter with New App, Threads
The New French Revolution
BlackRock Bitcoin ETF Application Refiled, Naming Coinbase as ‘Surveillance-Sharing’ Partner
×