CEO Shou Zi Chew has claimed that if parent company ByteDance were to sell the company, that alone would not be enough to avoid security scrutiny. Chew made the claim following reports this week (which TikTok has confirmed) that the US government has told TikTok to get rid of ByteDance or face a nationwide ban. “Divestment does not solve the problem: a change of ownership would not place new restrictions on data flows or access,” TikTok said in the wake of those reports.
Chew claimed that the US and other countries would still have issues with how the app handles user data if it had a different owner. Officials have expressed fear that China will gain access to user data linked to its residents.
TikTok CEO said That, if Beijing-based ByteDance were to sell the company, that won’t provide any more data protection beyond the projects it’s already working on. TikTok has promised to protect US user data from China and put in place other security measures, such as .
TikTok has spent billions of dollars on that plan, which it calls Project Texas. He has been working on the project for the past two years in an attempt to address US security concerns after former President Donald Trump. The company recently announced a similar project for .
Some officials worry that ByteDance will be forced to share data with the Chinese government or that China could demand changes to the content that TikTok’s algorithms display to Americans. TikTok has claimed it would not provide data to Chinese officials if they asked for help with spying; the company says it has received no such request.
Meanwhile, a former employee of TikTok’s trust and safety team claimed that there are significant flaws in the Texas Project. They said it would still be possible, in theory, for China to access US data, as TikTok could still be linked to ByteDance’s Chinese news app Toutiao. That being said, reports suggest that the person left TikTok months before Project Texas was finalized and that he may not know all the details of how it works.
“The idea behind Project Texas is that it won’t matter what Chinese law or any law says, because we’re taking American user data and putting it out of their reach,” Chew said. “You are talking about real concerns. I think these are the real solutions.”
Chew has not said whether ByteDance is willing to sell its stake in TikTok. He’s also ruled out listing TikTok on the stock market as a public company anytime soon, but that’s something his company and ByteDance are considering.
Next week, Chew before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. She will talk about TikTok’s links to China, as well as topics like privacy and the app’s impact on children.
and dozens of states have banned their employees from using TikTok on their federal or state devices. and have enacted similar bans in recent weeks, while the UK today.
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