Rep. Anna Eshoo Rejects TikTok CEO’s Claim That China Hasn’t Accessed American User Data

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Anna Eshoo, a Democratic California Representative, called TikTok CEO Shou Zh Chew out on Thursday for claiming that he hasn’t seen any evidence that the Chinese government has access American users’ data.

Chew testified before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce in the face of increasing pressure from TikTok’s Chinese parent company ByteDance to sell the platform.

In his opening statement, Chew stated that TikTok was not connected to the Chinese government.

Eshoo asked, “How can you convince the Congress of the United States to make a clean break?” “Why would the Chinese government ignore their national law…in terms of user data?”

Article 35 of 2021 Data Security Law of People’s Republic of China states that “national security organ[s]]” can “obtain information for the sake of national safety,” while Article 48 provides strict penalties for failing to provide the data requested under Article 35.

Chew replied, “I’m glad that you asked this.” “As I stated in the opening statement,” Chew replied, “Our plan is to move American data so that it can be stored on American soil.”

Eshoo cut Chew off and said “I understand that,” but he was unsure about Chew’s understanding. “Or I haven’t read anything in TikTok, what you can actually say — you mentioned in your opening statement about a firewall relative the data, but that data is owned by the Chinese government.”

Eshoo asked.

Chew testified that she had not seen any evidence that the Chinese government could have access to such data. They have not asked us. “We have not provided.”

This testimony is contrary to a BuzzFeed report dated June 2022 that revealed that ByteDance employees based in China had repeatedly accessed data not publically available from US TikTok users.

Chew was told by Eshoo that he found the statement “remarkable”.

“I have searched and found no evidence that this is happening. To assure everyone here and our users, we have made a commitment to transfer that data to the United States. It will be kept on American soil by an American company supervised by American personnel. Chew stated that the risk is similar to any government asking American companies for data.

Eshoo replied, “Well, I don’t believe there’s a Chinese private sector.”