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TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is set to testify before the House Energy and Trade Committee on Thursday morning as his company fights to stave off a possible ban in the US
Chew plans to tell Congress that he prioritizes the safety of users, especially teenagers, and that TikTok will protect US user data from “unauthorized access from abroad.” Chew also plans to say that the company “will not be manipulated by any government” and that it will be transparent and allow independent observers to assess its compliance.
TikTok has touted a complex plan called Project Texas to allay US concerns about its ownership. Under the plan, it will build its US data operations domestically and allow its code to be reviewed by external parties and submitted to the app stores.
TikTok is owned by Chinese internet giant ByteDance, and there have long been fears among US politicians that the Chinese government could force TikTok to hand over the vast amount of personal data it collects as part of its business model.
After two years of negotiations with the United States Committee on Foreign Investments (CFIUS), the White House reportedly requested that ByteDance sell TikTok last week. On Thursday, a spokeswoman for China’s Ministry of Commerce said, “If the news is true, China will firmly oppose it.”
The Biden administration has also pushed for a new bipartisan Senate bill that would give the Commerce Department the power to ban TikTok in the United States. This bill and others like it in Congress have attracted numerous supporters, both Democrats and Republicans.
TikTok became a viral sensation in the US by allowing users – especially young people – to create and share short videos. The company announced this week that it has 150 million users in the United States, a number that, if confirmed, will represent almost half of the US population.