On Wednesday, TikTok repeatedly refused to commit to US lawmakers that the short-form video program would block the flow of US users’ data to China, promising instead that the outcome of talks with the US government would “satisfy all national security concerns”. From the report: Testifying before the Senate Homeland Security Committee, TikTok COO Vanessa Pappas first sparred with Sen. Rob Portman over the details of TikTok’s corporate structure before twice confronting the specific question. “Will TikTok commit to stopping all data and data flows to China, TikTok’s Chinese employees, ByteDance employees, or any other party in China that may have access to information about US users?” Portman asked.
The issue reflects bipartisan concern in Washington about the possibility that data on American users could reach the Chinese government and be used to undermine US interests, thanks to the country’s national security law, which requires companies based there to cooperate with data requests. US officials have expressed concern that China could use Americans’ personal information to identify potential intelligence agents or targets, or to inform future disinformation campaigns. TikTok does not operate in China, Pappas said, although it does have an office in China. TikTok is owned by ByteDance, whose founder is Chinese and has offices in China. […] At Wednesday’s hearing, Pappas confirmed that the company has officially said that its Chinese employees do have access to US user data. She also reiterated that TikTok said it would “under no circumstances … share this data with China” and denied that TikTok is under any Chinese influence. However, she avoided commenting on whether ByteDance would keep US user data from the Chinese government, or whether ByteDance could be under Chinese influence.