TikTok Refuses to Cut Off Flow of Data on Americans to Communist China

TikTok COO Vanessa Pappas

TikTok COO Vanessa Pappas recently testified before the Senate Homeland Security Committee, stating that the company will not commit to stopping the transfer of U.S. data to China.

Metro reports that on Wednesday, TikTok’s Chief Operating Officer Vanessa Pappas testified before the Senate Homeland Security Committee about the Chinese-owned short-form video app. Other tech giants were also questioned by the committee, including senior executives at Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. Apple CEO Tim Cook was also seen in the building but did not appear before the committee.

Shouzi Chew, chief executive officer of TikTok Inc. Photographer: Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 31: Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) arrives at the Senate chamber as the Senate impeachment trial of U.S. President Donald Trump continues at the U.S. Capitol on January 31, 2020 in Washington, DC. On Friday, Senators are expected to debate and then vote on whether to include additional witnesses and documents. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

During questioning about TikTok’s corporate structure, Pappas refused to promise that it would cut off “all data and metadata flows to China.”

Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) asked Pappas: “Will TikTok commit to cutting off all data and data flows to China, China-based TikTok employees, ByteDance employees, or any other party in China that might have the capability to access information on US users?”

Pappas declined to commit to the request but promised that the outcome of its negotiations with the U.S. government “will satisfy all national security concerns.” Pappas assured lawmakers that despite having an office in China, TikTok does not operate in the communist country.

However, Chinese national security law dictates that all companies located there must cooperate with data requests from the government. This has resulted in TikTok facing questioning in the U.S. after an American communications regulator called on Apple and Google to ban the app over “national security” concerns. This is related to the possibility that U.S. user data could be transferred to the Chinese government and used to undermine U.S. interests.

Recent reports have confirmed that employees in China can access the private user data of Americans.

As Breitbart News reported in July:

Chinese-owned viral video app TikTok has revealed that certain company employees based in China have access to the personal information of American users. The company’s admission came in a letter to nine U.S. senators who accused TikTok and its parent company, ByteDance Ltd., of monitoring U.S. citizens.

TikTok influencers Florin Vitan (L) and Alessia Lanza perform a video (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP) (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images)

The senators asked TikTok whether China-based employees have access to U.S. users’ data, what role those employees play in developing TikTok’s algorithm, and if any of that information was shared with the Chinese government.

The CEO of TikTok parent company ByteDance, Shou Zi Chew, said in a June 30 letter that China-based employees who clear a number of internal security protocols can access certain information on U.S.-based TikTok users including public videos and comments. Chew claims that none of this information is shared with the Chinese government and is subject to “robust cybersecurity controls.”

Pappas confined that the company has said on record that its Chinese employees do have access to U.S. user data but reiterated that TikTok has said that it would “under no circumstances… give that data to China. However, Pappas did not clarify whether ByteDance — TikTok’s parent company — would keep U.S. user data from the Chinese government.

Read more at Metro here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan


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