Unpacking TikTok's CEOs congressional committee hearing

27/03/2023 | The Washington Post

If TikTok's CEO, Shou Zi Chew, appearance before a US congressional committee last week (discussed in advance here) achieved anything, it revealed the extent to which the United States needs to implement a federal privacy regulation. Amidst the political grandstanding, claims of xenophobia, and genuine security concerns, we're in a place of heightened tensions. But, as The Washington Post reports, the US problems are bigger than TikTok, and it has yet to secure American citizens the rights it accuses TikTok of threatening. Unsurprisingly, not all US lawmakers are in agreement as House Representative Ms Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) joined a small group of US Democrat lawmakers in opposing a TikTok ban. In her first-ever TikTok video, AOC called on the government to implement a privacy law to protect US citizens from all social media companies against their data harvesting practices and the commodifying of user data. 

In its summary, WIRED (£) focussed on the hearing's political grandstanding and claimed US Congress was the problem, as evidenced by the frequent interruptions to Chew's responses and denying his requests to elaborate or provide meaningful responses. "These opportunities to get the CEO on record, while under oath, were repeatedly blown in the name of expediency and for mostly theatrical reasons," the article stated.

One of the highlights from the hearing reported by TechCrunch was a response to a question concerning TikTok's use of biometrics. In clarifying how the company determines likely underage users on its platform, Chew confirmed TikTok scans users' videos to determine their age. "We have also developed some tools where we look at their public profile, to go through the videos that they post to see whether… it matches up the age that you talked about it," Chew said.

Meanwhile, Cobun Zweifel-Keegan, IAPP Managing Director, Washington, D.C., offers his take on the congressional hearing along with TikTok's privacy and data security practices.

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TikTok ceo shou zi chew

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