The safety of the social media app TikTok has come under scrutiny by US Congress members, who grilled its CEO, Shou Zi Chew, during a hearing. The US has threatened to ban the app completely if it remains under Chinese ownership. Other Western countries have also taken measures against Chinese tech firms over security concerns.
TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance and has over a billion active monthly users, has been banned on government devices in several countries, including Canada, the UK, and the US, due to security concerns. The app gathers user data, which has raised concerns about potential Chinese government access to the data. Additionally, TikTok has a tool called the "For You" feed, which recommends video clips for users to watch, and experts say that it makes the spread of misinformation easier and identification and detection more difficult.
Other Chinese tech firms, including Huawei, ZTE, and Hytera, have been banned from installing 5G technology equipment on networks in several countries, including Australia, the US, and Canada, due to fears that the Chinese government could access data through "backdoors." Additionally, the UK and Australia have ordered Chinese-made security cameras to be removed from sensitive sites due to concerns that they could also be secretly feeding intelligence to China.
China has criticized the bans as "political theatre," but TikTok insists that it gathers no more data than other social media apps and that it is independent of the government. TikTok has admitted that some of its staff in China could access user data gathered in Europe, but it says it is working on ways to keep such information within Europe. The app also says that American users' data is now processed through US servers and does not go to China.
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