TikTok CEO Testifies Before House Energy and Commerce Committee Regarding Potential App Ban

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TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on "TikTok: How Congress Can Safeguard American Data Privacy and Protect Children from Online Harms," on Capitol Hill, March 23, 2023, in Washington, DC.

Over the past several years, popular video sharing app TikTok’s security has been up for debate. Most recently, the app was banned on all government issued electronic devices out of an abundance of caution, and some states even moved to ban the app from public education institutions, including state colleges and universities. Owned by parent company ByteDance, the China-founded company purchased the platform that was formerly known as Musical.ly in 2016.

As some U.S. senators push for a total ban of TikTok, the company’s CEO Shou Zi Chew testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in Congress today. In his testimony, Chew cleared up several misconceptions about the company and the app’s security protections. Chew explained that the primary assumption made about ByteDance is that it is controlled by the Chinese government, which is not true, as the app is not even available for users in mainland China.

After clearing up the misconceptions regarding TikTok and ByteDance’s leadership, Chew clarified that software developers would be implementing additional security precautions to further protect American users. “The bottom line is this – American data is stored on American soil by an American company overseen by American personnel,” Chew said in his televised testimony.

Following his speech, GOP Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers expressed that she still intended to push for a nationwide TikTok ban, citing that it violates “American values.” Amid recent state-level anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-abortion legislation that is spreading rapidly across several regions of the U.S., TikTok has become a hub for activists to organize. Some suspect that this could really be one of the reasons why several GOP Representatives continue to seek a total ban of the online platform.


Others argue that while they feel a total ban is not necessary, the hearing could pave way for better social media data protection laws at large. Nearly all major social platforms have partial foreign funding, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

As of now, according to Pew Research center, approximately 38% of U.S. adults use TikTok, with 67% of U.S. teenagers scrolling the platform daily.

Some users feel that banning the app would have a sizable impact on the entertainment industry. Countless TikTok creators now host podcasts, signed book and record deals, and other beauty and lifestyle influencers rely on the income of brand deals that operate through the app.


The company’s larger controversy goes beyond the ordinary TikTok user. ByteDance confirmed that they tracked down several Forbes journalists responsible for leaks of internal information using their IP addresses. While the alleged tracking remains a paramount concern in the ongoing trial, some social media users remain relatively un phased, as it has long been speculated that all popular social media apps do the same thing.

Dave Jorgensen, a journalist for the Washington Post who famously runs the newspaper’s TikTok account, reminded users that Facebook still stands accused of the same concerns as TikTok, and to not jump to conclusions about a ban yet.

Many also encouraged social media users to educate themselves on data privacy laws, and to not feed into anti-Asian rhetoric regarding the Chinese-founded company.

The congressional hearing about TikTok’s privacy concerns is ongoing, and an official ban is not yet in place.

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