(CTN NEWS) – U.S. legislators have questioned TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew about knowledge safety and objectionable content material, and a few have known as for a statewide ban on the well-known short-video app.
Chew, a Singaporean citizen, claimed to the congressmen that TikTok prioritizes person security in an effort to stop the app from being blocked in america by downplaying its connections to China.
Representatives from each the Republican and Democratic events vigorously grilled Chew on points comparable to TikTok’s content material moderation strategies, knowledge safety insurance policies, and historical past of snooping on journalists.
Listed below are a few of the points folks have with TikTok and its possession.
WHAT MAKES WASHINGTON BELIEVE THAT TIKTOK IS A THREAT?
TikTok, a Chinese language expertise firm ByteDance Ltd. totally owns the app and hires its leaders, with greater than 150 million American customers.
ByteDance is a privately owned Chinese language firm with its headquarters in Beijing however its registration within the Cayman Islands. Haidian, an space in northwest Beijing that’s residence to necessary schools and a hotspot for tech entrepreneurs, is the place it has its headquarters.
The headquarters of TikTok are cut up between Singapore and Los Angeles.
ByteDance, a Chinese language entrepreneur Zhang Yiming’s 2012 startup, is estimated to be price round $220 billion, or round half of its $400 billion 2021 valuation.
Each publicly traded and privately held Chinese language tech corporations, like ByteDance, have seen a pointy decline in worth because the Communist Get together in energy tightened its grip on the sector by way of anti-monopoly and knowledge safety crackdowns.
Chinese language officers may compel ByteDance to cross up TikTok knowledge on American customers, fearing Western international locations, revealing delicate data.
In accordance with Mao Ning, a spokeswoman for the international ministry, China’s authorities has by no means requested firms to “gather or present knowledge, data, or intelligence” held by international governments and won’t achieve this sooner or later.
She additionally famous that america “has not supplied any proof up to now to show that TikTok threatens U.S. nationwide safety.”
In accordance with ByteDance, non-Chinese language traders such because the Japanese SoftBank Group and American funding firms Carlyle Group and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts personal 60% of the corporate’s shares.
20% of the corporate is owned by the staff and the remaining 20% by the founders.
It’s nonetheless unclear to outsiders precisely how TikTok and ByteDance are linked.
WHY DO WESTERN GOVERNMENTS CONCERN CHINESE RULES?
Whereas a special 2014 Counter-Espionage Regulation specifies that “related organizations… could not refuse” to collect proof for an investigation.
China’s 2017 Nationwide Intelligence Regulation mandates that “any group” should assist or collaborate with state intelligence exercise.
ByteDance, the Chinese language enterprise that controls TikTok, would most likely be required to stick by these rules if Chinese language authorities demanded it to show over knowledge.
The Communist Get together controls every part, together with legal guidelines and rules. The celebration’s authority is unrestricted by legislation.
To implement compliance by Chinese language and worldwide companies working in China, the authorities may additionally threaten to revoke licenses, launch regulatory or tax investigations, or apply different penalties.
The celebration will sometimes use “window steerage,” or covert non-public communication, to transmit instructions. It has tightened management over technological firms through crackdowns to compel them to assist its targets.
By acquiring seats on firm boards of administrators, the Chinese language authorities has additionally tried to exert extra direct management over companies.
Even with “Mission Texas,” MUST TIKTOK TURN OVER DATA IF THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT REQUESTS IT?
By holding person knowledge on computer systems run by an unbiased contractor, Oracle Corp., in what is named “Mission Texas,” TikTok has pledged to guard data on American customers.
All new U.S. person knowledge is housed there, in line with Chew, the CEO of TikTok, and the corporate plans to complete erasing older U.S. knowledge from non-Oracle servers this yr.
The priority is that, if required to take action by Chinese language authorities, ByteDance could be compelled to show over the knowledge it has obtained from TikTok.
Nevertheless, Chew has said that Mission Texas will preserve American knowledge out of China’s arms.
In December, ByteDance revealed that whereas investigating how details about the corporate was leaked, 4 employees had entry to details about reporters and people associated to them.
Chew knowledgeable the legislators that though some U.S. knowledge should still be accessible to ByteDance personnel stationed in China, this entry will stop after Mission Texas is completed.
In November, the pinnacle of privateness for Europe at TikTok stated that some employees in China had entry to knowledge on customers within the UK and the EU.
DOES THE COMMUNIST PARTY AFFECT BYTEDANCE IN ANY WAY?
Within the session on Thursday, MPs pressed Chew on whether or not ByteDance had any ties to China’s communist authorities.
When requested if the highest executives and personnel had been Communist Get together members, he dodged the topic.
We don’t know the political affiliation of our employees since we don’t ask them, however I do know that the founder himself shouldn’t be a member of the Communist Get together, Chew added.
Chew objected when requested whether or not the Chinese language Communist Get together successfully managed ByteDance.
Chew responded, “That’s not right,” in response to a lawmaker’s declare that the Communist Get together controls one ByteDance board seat due to its possession of a “golden share” within the firm.
In China, state funding autos that personal so-called “golden shares” that give them a 1% stake in enterprises are one means for Beijing to extend its management over the financial system.
When lawmakers asserted that the Communist Get together holds shares in ByteDance and thus has a say in how the corporate is operated, Chew retaliated. Chew said that the Communist Get together was not permitted to vote in ByteDance.
A few of ByteDance’s video and data platforms that cater solely to the Chinese language market are licensed by the corporate’s principal Chinese language subsidiary.
WHAT IS DOUYIN AND HOW IS IT RELATED TO TIKTOK?
ByteDance’s short-video platform for the Chinese language market is named Douyin. Just like TikTok, it’s topic to Chinese language censorship legal guidelines that forbid materials deemed subversive or P***ographic.
U.S. politicians involved about hazardous content material seen by kids have underlined this level.
The vast majority of Chinese language web customers can not view TikTok because of the heavy controls utilized by the Communist Get together.
In accordance with ByteDance, Toutiao, a information and short-video platform, and different companies have “no affiliation” with Beijing ByteDance Know-how Co., a subsidiary that runs Douyin.
HOW DID CHINA REACT TO THE WASHINGTON TESTIMONY OF THE TIKTOK CEO?
A lot of the social media responses in China supported Chew and gave him credit score for dealing with the robust questions directed at him.
Feedback on Douyin and the microblogging website Weibo criticized American senators for posing “entice” or main inquiries to Chew.
A standard idiom utilized in feedback is “If you wish to accuse somebody, there’s all the time a means,” which is translated from Chinese language.
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