In a letter addressed to nine of the app’s top Republican critics, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew detailed how the company intended to separate American user data from ByteDance, TikTok’s Chinese parent company. Chew also explained TikTok’s plan to host US user data on Oracle servers, a plan first reported by BuzzFeed News last month.
“We are proud to be able to serve a global community of over one billion people who use TikTok to express themselves creatively and have fun”Chew wrote in the letter first reported by the New York Times. “We know we are among the most scrutinized platforms from a security point of view and we aim to remove any doubts about the security of US user data.”
Right after BuzzFeed News reported that ByteDance engineers in China had access to US data through January 2022Republican senators questioned Chew about the company’s data security practices in a letter in June.
The letter, signed by legislators such as Sens. Roger Wicker and Marsha Blackburn, raised concerns that TikTok officials “Did not provide truthful or straightforward answers” in a recent commission hearing in light of the report.
TikTok has to come back and testify before Congress
Responding to Chew’s letter on Thursday, Blackburn released a statement asking TikTok to testify before Congress again. “TikTok’s response confirms that our fears about the CCP’s influence within the company are well founded”Blackburn said.
“They should have been clear from the start, but instead they tried to hide their work in secret. Americans need to know that if they are on TikTok, Communist China has their information. TikTok must come back and testify before Congress ”.
Since 2020, Republicans have raised concerns about TikTok’s popularity among US users, accusing the app of sharing US data directly with the Chinese government. At the end of August 2020, the former president Donald Trump signed an executive order which effectively bans TikTok in the United States. Federal judges repeatedly overturned the order, but Republicans continued to lobby the app.
As late as last month, Brendan Carr, a Republican commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission, wrote to Apple and Google asking the companies to remove TikTok from their app stores. The FCC doesn’t have the authority to ban the apps, but Carr asked the tech giants for statements if they chose not to remove the app.
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