A high-level TikTok executive repeatedly refused to stop sending American users’ data to China in a congressional hearing Wednesday, claiming that policies currently in development would be sufficient to satisfy America’s national security concerns.
TikTok’s Chief Operating Officer Vanessa Pappas claimed that ongoing negotiations with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) would develop policies that ensured American users’ data was secured. Pappas was twice asked by Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio if TikTok, which is owned by Chinese social media giant ByteDance, would be willing to refrain from sending American data to China, a commitment which Pappas refused to make. (RELATED: Whistleblower Says FBI Warned Twitter About A Chinese Spy In The Company)
TikTok employees in China have access to U.S. user data, but “under no circumstances” has that data been given to the Chinese government, Pappas said, going on to deny that TikTok is influenced by the Chinese government, according to CNN. Pappas made no comment about the ways in which ByteDance employees might see American data, whether ByteDance was influenced by the Chinese government or the ways in which ByteDance influences TikTok.
TikTok had long denied claims that data on U.S. users was accessed by ByteDance employees for several years, before a bombshell report by Buzzfeed in June revealed that, despite sworn testimony to the contrary, U.S.-based employees did not have permission to access U.S. users’ data on their own. Pappas repeatedly claimed that the allegations in the Buzzfeed article were false, and that the company was going “above and beyond” to secure user data, CNN reported.
Since TikTok’s COO spent much of the hearing today painting distinctions between parent Bytedance and TikTok, it’s worth revisiting who was one of Facebook’s largest advertisers. And apparently got away with violating policies. https://t.co/tfowjM9uTM
— Jason Kint (@jason_kint) September 15, 2022
The hearing came one day after former Twitter employee and whistleblower, Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, revealed that Twitter employees could anonymously gather information about users such as their location, email, phone number and computer type when they access the website. All of this information could be gathered without Twitter or the user being made aware of it, and Zatko claimed the information could and has been sold online without Twitter or the victims being aware of it.
Zatko also alleged that Twitter had been informed by the FBI that at least one of its employees was a “Chinese foreign asset.” At least 300 ByteDance employees previously worked for Chinese state media.
A TikTok spokeswoman told the Daily Caller News Foundation has “extensive engagement with CFIUS address national security concerns” and is working with Oracle on new, advanced security controls.
This article has been updated with comment from TikTok.
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