On 5th November 2019, the famous video-making app TikTok said in a letter to US lawmakers its independence from China but failed to convince Senator Josh Hawley, who chaired the hearing on the security of personal data of US citizens.
According to the reports, TikTok said in a letter to lawmakers that to analyze its data security practices, TikTok hired a U.S. based auditing firm.
A Republican, Hawley, said at a hearing of a subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee: “TikTok claims they don’t store American user data in China. That’s nice. But all it takes is one knock on the door of their parent company based in China from a Communist Party official for that data to be transferred to the Chinese government’s hands”.
Last week, an international news organization company reported that a national security review of TikTok has been launched by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).
In a letter dated Monday, signed by Vanessa Pappas, General Manager of TikTok, US, the company announced that it stores all US user data in the United States, backed up in Singapore.
It also announced plans to set up a committee of external experts to advise on content moderation and transparency. It further added that it will not accept political ads.
Hawley demanded that TikTok executives, who are just a few years old, to swear before the Committee and called the company a threat to national security. TikTok executives did not attend Tuesday’s hearing.
The company recently said “TikTok has been growing more popular among US teenagers at a time of rising tensions between Washington and Beijing over trade and technology transfers. About 60 percent of TikTok’s 26.5 million monthly active users in the United States are between the ages of 16 and 24”.
TikTok said in its letter that its investors are mainly large institutional investors and that the app is not available in China.
The national security review is focused on $1 billion (GBP 777.00 million or around Rs. 7,100 crores) of TikTok owner Beijing ByteDance Technology acquisition of US social media app Musical.ly.
When the $1 billion acquisition was completed two years ago, US lawmakers called TikTok a national security probe in recent weeks, worried that a Chinese company might censor politically sensitive content and raise questions about how it stores personal information.