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TikTok CEO Addresses China Ties and Teen Safety During Congressional Hearing

March 23, 2023
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The first Congressional hearing of TikTok had the world captivated. As lawmakers expressed their distrust of the company’s ties to ByteDance and China, it became increasingly clear that, unless convincing measures were taken, the app could face a ban.

Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Representative Cathy Rodgers, expressed her deep suspicion of the ties between TikTok and ByteDance, even citing the Chinese Communist Party in her opening statement. She went on to call for a ban on the company. Meanwhile, CEO Shou Chew attempted to combat these allegations and called attention to Project Texas, an initiative to create a secure data storage for US users. Representatives at the hearing were, however, unsatisfied with his responses, referring to the plan as a marketing scheme.

Tony Cardenas, a representative at the hearing asked Chew how he would classify ByteDance: specifically whether it was a Chinese company or otherwise. Chew did not confirm, instead stating that it had a Chinese founder and was ‘Global’ in presence. Similarly, when asked about China’s persecution of Uighur population by Debbie Lesko, the TikTok CEO answered only vaguely and preferred to shift the topic to the allowance of such sensitive topics on the platform.

Chew then dodged questions about the powerful inner workings of ByteDance and its connection to China-based employees. He was met with sharp criticism upon denying there had been any ‘spying’ on American journalists with regard to bans.

The majority of lawmakers were not active on the app and amongst their naive questions was one from Richard Hudson, a representative at the hearing, who asked whether TikTok was able to access the home wifi. After hours of questioning, Chew remained undeterred, recently stating the the Project Texas plan was to move forward and the discussions about a sale of the app were ‘not on the table’ currently.

It’s still unclear what the outcome of this hearing will end up being and only time will tell. It remains to be seen if the Project Texas plan will be enough to address the concerns of the US officials and the US Government, or if the app will be banned.

TikTok’s future is uncertain, and a lot is riding on the outcome of this hearing. Question remains though, project Texas enough to address the concerns of the US? Will it be given a chance to redeem itself or will the ban happen? It is up to you to comment and let us know your opinion.

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