TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew admitted to Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks that the Chinese app tracks users’ keystrokes during a House Committee on Energy and Commerce hearing on Thursday.
“Does TikTok track users’ individual keystrokes?” Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA) asked, to which Chew responded by stating, “Only for security purposes, for example, like detecting bots.”
After Miller-Meeks asked Chew to clarify that “the only purpose that you would monitor keystrokes is for security purposes,” the TikTok CEO said, “I can get back to you on the specifics,” and then deflected, by saying other companies behave in a similar way.
In a recent interview with GMA3: What You Need to Know, former Trump official Keith Krach warned that TikTok is able to track users’ keystrokes.
“That means they have access to your passwords, all your data, they have access to your health records, your bank records, they have access to your geopolitical information or your geospatial information,” Krach said. “That means that they can track where you are, where you’ve been, and where you’re going.”
“Look at it as a digital virus,” he added. “And the only cure for this; the only vaccine for this is a total ban.”
Some might agree with Chew’s suggestion that U.S. social media companies engage in the same behavior as TikTok, but the difference is that U.S. companies can be held responsible under U.S. laws, whether that takes the form of action by Congress or regulators, whereas the same is not possible with TikTok.
Elsewhere during Thursday’s hearing, Chew said “I don’t think that ‘spying’ is the right way to describe” the alleged Chinese surveillance of Americans using his company’s social media platform.
You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.