TikTok CEO: Sale won't resolve perceived security risks
(The Hill) — Shou Zi Chew, the CEO of TikTok, said in an interview that an eventual sale of the company won’t resolve perceived security risks of the app amid calls from Congress for the Chinese owners of the company to sell their stakes.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal published Thursday, Chew said that the U.S.’s latest demands for ByteDance to sell its stake in the social media platform don’t offer any more protection than a multibillion-dollar plan the company already proposed with U.S.-based company Oracle Corp.
TikTok’s proposed plan will allow Oracle to store the data of American users and also safeguard against any influence from China over what videos Americans view on the app, according to the Journal.
“I do welcome feedback on what other risk we are talking about that is not addressed by this,” Chew told the Journal. “So far I haven’t heard anything that cannot actually be solved by this.”
Chew also declined to confirm if ByteDance is open to selling its stake, saying that the company, which owns 20 percent of TikTok, has been considering the possibility but doesn’t think it’s the right time to do so.
“There’s no concrete plan right now,” Chew added.
Chew’s remarks come as he is set to appear before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in a hearing to discuss TikTok’s “consumer privacy and data security practices, the platforms’ impact on kids, and their relationship with the Chinese Communist Party.”
The Biden administration recently demanded ByteDance sell its stakes in TikTok, warning that the social media platform could faces a potential ban in the U.S.
In a statement to The Hill, a TikTok spokesperson agreed with Chew that the sale wouldn’t solve the perceived security problems.
“If protecting national security is the objective, divestment doesn’t solve the problem: a change in ownership would not impose any new restrictions on data flows or access,” the spokesperson said.
Multiple state governments and Congress in recent months have implemented bans on TikTok on government devices, citing national security concerns.