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TikTok CEO to Face Congress, Say It Has Solutions to Data Concerns

Under the shadow of a possible ban, Shou Chew will try to convince lawmakers that TikTok can safeguard US data.

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Carrie Mihalcik
Meara Isenberg
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TikTok CEO Shou Chew is in Washington, DC, today to try to convince Congress that TikTok can protect US users' data and maintain safety for the millions of Americans who use the popular video app. 

Chew is scheduled to testify before the US House Committee on Energy and Commerce about TikTok's privacy and data security practices. Lawmakers are scrutinizing TikTok, and the app faces a possible ban in the US. Earlier this month, the Biden administration demanded that ByteDance, the app's Chinese parent company, sell its stake in the app. 

Officials are concerned US user data could be passed on to the Chinese government or that the Chinese government could dictate what content is shown on TikTok in a bid to influence public opinion in the US.

Chew will argue that ByteDance isn't an agent of China, but instead that it's a global company that won't allow unauthorized access to user data, according to prepared remarks shared Wednesday.

"TikTok has never shared, or received a request to share, U.S. user data with the Chinese government," Chew will say, according to the prepared remarks. "Nor would TikTok honor such a request if one were ever made."

Chew will also argue that instead of a ban, there are alternatives that could address US officials' concerns, primarily a $1.5 billion effort to secure data, which TikTok has dubbed Project Texas. 

"Our commitment under Project Texas is for the data of all Americans to be stored in America, hosted by an American headquartered company," Chew will tell lawmakers, with access to the data controlled by a special TikTok subsidiary called US Data Security Inc., or USDS.

Chew will also discuss the platform's commitment to protecting minors who use the app. He'll highlight examples, including how TikTok accounts registered to teens under 16 are prevented from sending direct messages and are automatically set to private.

"These measures go far beyond what any of our peers do," Chew says in the prepared remarks.

On Tuesday, Chew turned directly to TikTok users to bolster support, announcing that the app has 150 million users in America. He said in a TikTok video that "some politicians have started talking about banning TikTok," which would "take away TikTok from all 150 million of you."

He asked people to share in comments what they want representatives to know about TikTok and why they love the app. The video has more than 6 million views.