TikTok CEO testifies in Congress, as app faces US ban over personal data, privacy concerns

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew will on Thursday testify before Congress for the first time – amid the growing concern about the China-based app collecting data on it estimated 150 million U.S. users and its connection to the China Communist Party.

Chew will testify before the GOP-led House Energy and Commerce Committee about concerns over the his app posing a national security threat.

GOP governors across the country, with South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem at the forefront, earlier this year began banning the app from government issued cellphones and other electronic devices – a move that was followed by the federal government and is now being followed by President Biden considering a nationwide ban.

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The Biden administration is considering the ban of TikTok in the United State if the app’s Chinese owners refuse to sell their stakes.

Among the other concerns of Washington lawmakers and others is the extraordinary amount of time teens spend scroll through content in the short-form video app.

Critics of the ban raise concerns about such issue as free speech, taking away jobs from content creators and denying businesses a key, cost-effective advertising channel in now digital-heavy marketplace.

The Harvard-educated Chew himself on Tuesday made such a case – with a TikTok video.

“Some politicians have started talking about banning TikTok,” he said. “Now this could take TikTok away from all 150 million of you.”

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According to Chew’s prepared remarks before Congress, he will argue that the social media platform is safe and secure for teenagers and other users and that it won’t be accessed or influenced by the Chinese government.

President Donald Trump in 2020 vowed to ban TikTok.

Several U.S. public universities have also banned the app from their devices and Wi-Fi and the Justice Department and the FBI are investigating TikTok and its parent company ByteDance, including allegations that company employees spied on journalistsaccording to NBC News.

Top TikTok executives and their lobbyists in recent weeks and months have been briefing members of Congress, in part about a $1.5 billion called Project Texas, a roughly 2-year-old plan to reportedly bolster data security for U.S.-based users that would satisfy lawmakers and avoid a ban, with TikTok owners not appearing to be willing sell their stake in the app.

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