TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew faced a high-stakes hearing with the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday, where concerns about data privacy, misinformation, and China’s relationship with the company were raised.
Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers asked Chew to assure lawmakers that neither Chinese authorities nor TikTok parent company ByteDance can use the app to spy on Americans, to which Chew responded that the app is “free from any manipulation from any government.”
Chew also discussed Project Texas, which would restructure TikTok so that its U.S. user data is stored with software company Oracle in Austin, Texas, but lawmakers remained unconvinced.
The hearing also addressed issues related to the safety of children, misinformation, and targeted advertising on TikTok.
As of now, it is unclear if TikTok will be banned in the United States. While the concerns about the safety and security of the app remain high, TikTok has made efforts to address these concerns, such as with its proposed “Project Texas” and a 60 minute daily limit for teen users. The company also argues that it is not an agent of the Chinese government and that it does not promote or remove content at the request of any government.
However, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle continue to express skepticism about TikTok’s relationship with China and the potential risks to national security. It remains to be seen if TikTok’s efforts to address these concerns will be sufficient to prevent a ban, or if lawmakers will continue to push for more drastic action.