TikTok moves to address privacy, online harm fears as US, UK & BBC bans loom

23/03/2023 | Reuters

As the scrutiny of the world's fastest-growing social network increases, The Guardian has the back story on TikTok's unassuming Harvard graduate CEO, Shou Zi Chew. Two years into his stint as CEO, Chew had chosen to operate from the sidelines except for the occasional interview. Despite Chew's promotion, which led to his inclusion in Fortune’s 40 under 40 list in 2021, and his joining an elite band of technology leaders, little is known about the man with 23 posts and 17,000 followers. All that is about to change. 

In a related article, The Guardian focuses on the grilling Chew faces as he prepares to appear before a US congressional committee. Fears that US users' data could land in the hands of the Chinese government have not gone away. Chew's appearance will be a major test. In a statement shared with Reuters ahead of his testimony, Chew emphasised online safety and data protection: “TikTok has never shared, or received a request to share, US user data with the Chinese government. Nor would TikTok honour such a request if one were ever made... Let me state this unequivocally: ByteDance is not an agent of China or any other country.” 

This comes as Tech Radar reports on the findings of cybersecurity company Feroot Security which discovered web-tracking pixels made by TikTok's parent company ByteDance on 30 US government websites across 27 states.

Elsewhere, AP News reports TikTok bans deepfakes for young people in its updated rules and standards for content.

Meanwhile, in the UK, The Register reports that the BBC has told staff to uninstall TikTok from corporate devices unless they can justify that they need it. 

UPDATE: 230323

The Guardian is streaming live as TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testifies before US Congress amid growing security concerns 

The Guardian reveals UK parliament is to ban the TikTok app from parliamentary devices and the wider parliamentary network over cybersecurity concerns. It means any MPs or parliamentary staff who haven't yet followed through on the government ban will find the service is blocked if they attempt to access it using the parliamentary wifi.

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