A TikTok executive declined on Sept. 14 to make a commitment that the hugely popular short-video app would cut off flows of Americans’ data to China, during the first U.S. Senate hearing since recent reports on the company’s connections to the regime in Beijing.
TikTok Chief Operating Officer Vanessa Pappas, along with executives from other U.S. big tech companies, testified before the Senate Homeland Security Committee. During the hearing, Pappas faced a barrage of questions regarding Tiktok’s ties to Beijing and the potential for U.S. users’ data to be obtained by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which has become a bipartisan concern.
“Will TikTok commit to cutting off all data and data flows to China, China-based TikTok employees, ByteDance employees, or any other party in China that might have the capability to access information on U.S. users?” Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), the panel’s top Republican, asked.
The short-video app, which the Republican senator says nearly half of American teens are using, was founded by and is owned by ByteDance, a Beijing-based tech giant. The ties have drawn concerns in the United States and elsewhere over whether its data can be accessed by the CCP, given that its laws compel companies to cooperate with security agencies when asked.
Officials and experts say the personal data harvesting from Americans could be used by the CCP to conduct espionage operations, or even shape their perceptions to be favorable to the Chinese regime.
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