TikTok, a popular social media company, refused to say if it will stop transmitting US user data to China when asked by US senators. Rather, it pledged to engage in negotiations with all US national security issues. The meeting follows national security legislation in China that obliges businesses to provide data that has raised concerns in the US. Many individuals think China may obtain US data and utilize it to create fake information or campaigns, as well as to identify intelligence targets and operatives.
Before being asked for a specific request during their testimony before the Senate Homeland Security Committee, TikTok Chief Operating Officer Vanessa Pappas complained about the corporate structure of the app. Portman enquired, ‘Will TikTok agree to shut off any data and data transfers to China, China-based TikTok workers, China-based ByteDance employees, or any other entity in China that could be able to access information about US users?’ CNN reported.
Although the app doesn’t technically exist in China, according to Pappas, TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company. Concerns regarding TikTok in the US were revived when a BuzzFeed News piece from June of this year asserted, based on meeting audio that was leaked, that ByteDance staff had been frequently accessing US user data.
Later on in the hearing, Pappas admitted that individuals in China may access user data from the US, but he emphasized that the security procedures were observed by its US-based security team. She also denied assertions that China has no control over the platform and reiterated TikTok’s promise that it will never transfer data to China. When questioned whether ByteDance would shield US customer data from the Chinese government or whether China would have any control over the app, Pappas remained mute.
When questioned further, Pappas responded to the BuzzFeed article by claiming that such claims were unfounded. She continued by saying that a master account was brought up, but that the business lacked one and didn’t know whether the engineers were employed by ByeDance or TikTok. Portman again requested that she sign a vow and stop all data transfers to China in response to Pappas’ assurance, but she would only say that the final agreement with the US government will address all of its national security concerns.