TikTok “is not an agent in the service of China”, will defend its boss before the American Congress

“Let me tell you unequivocally: ByteDance is not an agent in the service of China or any other country”, should assure the boss of TikTok before the American Congress on Thursday. Shou Chew will defend his platform’s efforts to protect user data against lawmakers who accuse him of undermining national security, according to his speech posted online Wednesday.

He will be auditioned by a powerful parliamentary commission, while the popular application of the Chinese group ByteDance risks a total ban in the United States. “TikTok will remain a platform for freedom of expression and will not be manipulated by any government,” the leader plans to say, according to his preliminary speech published on the House of Representatives website.

Many American elected officials, right and left, believe that the social network allows Beijing to access confidential user data. Some also fear that the application will serve as a trojan horse for the Chinese Communist Party to manipulate public opinion. And the platform, like its competitors, is regularly accused of presenting risks to the mental and physical health of children and adolescents, from addiction to dangerous challenges such as the “scarf game”.

Efforts to protect personal data

The company has already spent around $1.5 billion setting up “Project Texas”, which consists of hosting this data only in the United States, on servers from the Texas-based Oracle group. “Earlier this month, we began deleting all US data stored on non-Oracle servers,” Shou Chew said.

Thanks to this ad hoc subsidiary of TikTok, USDS, “it is impossible for the Chinese government to access it or to force (the company) to give it access”. He also intends to mention that American users represent 10% of their global base, but 25% of views.

On Tuesday, he congratulated himself on having exceeded 150 million monthly users in the United States, but regretted that “politicians are talking about banning TikTok”, in a rare direct intervention on the platform. This is the first time Shou Chew will be heard by the US Congress. The CEO of the Chinese social network had been received in Brussels at the beginning of January to discuss with several senior European officials.

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