‘Xenophobic witch hunt’: TikTok users, some US Democratic lawmakers oppose app ban


Chew will appear for the first time before US Congress on Thursday. 

Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers are expected to give the 40-year-old a rough grilling and Chew will face an uphill battle to sway the US lawmakers over their national security concerns.

There is currently legislation, including one Bill backed by the White House, already paving the way for a ban of the app if TikTok fails to split from its parent company ByteDance.

“Let me state this unequivocally: ByteDance is not an agent of China or any other country,” Chew will say, according to his prepared remarks made available by the House committee.

“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,” Chew will add in his opening statement.

“Bans are only appropriate when there are no alternatives. But we do have an alternative.”

Chew’s remarks include a long set of assurances and promote the company’s elaborate plan – known as Project Texas – to satisfy US national security concerns.

According to that plan, the handling of US data will be ringfenced into a separate division of the company, co-controlled with Oracle and under different management.

The Singaporean CEO will tell the US lawmakers that TikTok has already spent US$1.5 billion on Project Texas and hired 1,500 US-based staff members to make it a reality.

He will also argue US user traffic is running exclusively on Oracle’s servers and that the algorithm driving TikTok’s signature “For You” recommendations is processed in the US.

Chew will also tout TikTok’s content moderation, which is staffed by “more than 40,000 people” around the world.

TikTok “is not the platform of choice for individuals seeking to engage in harmful conduct”, Chew will say, in a tacit criticism of rivals such as Google-owned YouTube and Meta-owned Facebook that have also struggled with harmful or illegal content.

Chew will also point to the site’s new default of imposing a 60 minutes-a-day time limit for under-18s.

They also are barred from holding live streams, which are more difficult to monitor, although critics allege the rules are easy for underage users to circumvent.

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