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TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew will testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday morning as his company fights to avoid a possible ban in the United States
Chew plans to tell Congress that it prioritizes the safety of users, especially teenagers, and that TikTok will protect US user data from “unauthorized foreign access”. Chew also plans to say that the company “will not be manipulated by any government” and that it will be transparent and allow independent monitors to assess its compliance.
TikTok has touted an elaborate plan known as Project Texas to help ease US concerns over its ownership. Under the plan, it will base its US data operations domestically and allow its code to be reviewed and sent to app stores by third parties.
TikTok is owned by Chinese internet giant ByteDance, and U.S. policymakers have long feared the Chinese government could force TikTok to hand over the massive amount of personal data it collects as part of its business model.
After two years of negotiations with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, the White House would have demanded last week that ByteDance sold TikTok. On Thursday, a spokeswoman for China’s Ministry of Commerce said, “If the news is true, China will resolutely oppose it.”
The Biden administration has also thrown its support behind a new Senate bipartisan bill it would give the Commerce Department the power to ban TikTok in the United States. This bill and others like it in Congress have attracted dozens of co-sponsors, Democrats and Republicans.
TikTok has become a viral sensation in the United States by allowing young people to create and share short videos. But the company announced this week that it has 150 million users in the United States, a figure which, if confirmed, rises to almost 60% of the population.