TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew came Thursday afternoon to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee where he was questioned about the security threat posed by the well-known Chinese social network.
Committee Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) began her remarks by assuring the company's CEO that the social network posed a threat to the nation:
Mr. Chew, you are here because the American people need the truth about the threat TikTok poses to our national and personal security. TikTok has repeatedly chosen a path for more control, more surveillance and more manipulation.
Following this, the chairwoman stated emphatically that there was no choice but to ban TikTok, which she accused of being used covertly the Chinese Communist Party:
Your platform should be banned. TikTok collects as much data as possible and the Chinese Communist Party can use this information to manipulate US citizens. We do not trust TikTok will ever embrace American values - values for freedom, human rights and innovation.
Zi Chew continued in the same vein as the prepared testimony he had shared the day before. He again assured that the application is completely safe and that the many politicians' view of TikTok was wrong: "There are a lot of misconceptions about our company and I'm very proud to come here and represent them and all of our users in this country," Chew told reporters in remarks reported by AP.
The executive also stated that he did not believe that ownership of TikTok was an issue at all. The app is part of ByteDance, a Chinese company accused of having ties to the Chinese Communist Party. However, this does not concern the platform's CEO at all. He, during his address to the House, responded: "Trust is about actions we take. Ownership is not at the core of addressing these concerns."
Lawmakers consider TikTok to be a threat
The most uncomfortable moment of his appearance came shortly thereafter. Rep. Kat Cammack (R-Fla.) showed a most revealing application video. It showed a gun and a caption informing viewers of the date on which Chew was due to testify in the House. At this, the legislator asked him:
You expect us to believe that you are capable of maintaining the data security, privacy and security of 150 million Americans where you can’t even protect the people in this room?
The rest of the representatives were in line with Carmack. New Jersey Democrat Frank Pallone asserted that, despite Shou Zi Chew’s words, he still considered TikTok to pose a threat:
I still believe that the Communist government in Beijing will continue to control and have the ability to influence what they do. While TikTok videos provide a fun new way for people to express their creativity and enjoy the videos of others, the platform also threatens the health, privacy and safety of the American people. I am not convinced that the benefits [of TikTok] outweigh the threats it poses to Americans in its current form.