TikTok CEO says company is at ‘pivotal’ moment as US ban calls grow

TikTok CEO says company is at ‘pivotal’ moment as US ban calls grow

TikTok CEO says company is at 'pivotal' moment as US ban calls grow

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew said the Chinese short-video app company faces a pivotal moment as a growing number of U.S. lawmakers seek to ban the popular app on national security grounds.

Chew said in a video posted to TikTok early Tuesday that the app now has more than 150 million monthly active US users. “That’s almost half of the United States coming to TikTok,” Chew said. TikTok in 2020 said it had 100 million US users.

Chew, who will testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday, said: “Some politicians have started talking about banning TikTok.”

“Now that could take TikTok away from the 150 million of you,” he said in the video that features the US Capitol building in the background.

He asked TikTok users to leave comments about what they wanted US lawmakers to know about “what you like about TikTok”.

Chew also said that 5 million American businesses use TikTok to reach their customers.

TikTok’s critics fear its US users’ data could be passed to the Chinese government by the app, which is owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance. TikTok rejects spying claims.

TikTok also said on Tuesday it had updated its community usage guidelines and offered more details about its plans to secure US user data. The company said it began deleting protected US user data this month at data centers in Virginia and Singapore after it began routing new US data to Oracle Cloud last year.

Last week, TikTok said the Biden administration demanded that TikTok’s Chinese owners divest their stake in the app or it could face a US ban.

TikTok, which said it has spent more than $1.5 billion (about Rs 12,396 crore) on stringent data security efforts, said “if protecting national security is the goal, divestment will not does not solve the problem: a change of ownership would not impose any new restrictions on data flows or access.”

A growing number of US lawmakers support a TikTok ban. That includes Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers, congressional aides told reporters on a Monday call. On Friday, six more U.S. senators backed bipartisan legislation to give Biden new powers to ban TikTok.

On March 1, the US House Foreign Affairs Committee voted along party lines to give President Joe Biden new powers to ban TikTok.

© Thomson Reuters 2023

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