TikTok CEO Shou Chew was questioned by lawmakers over the relationship between TikTok and its Chinese parent company, ByteDance. Chew’s pre-written statement reads; “There was no overt data transmission by TikTok to the Chinese government and that TikTok did not contact any servers within China.” In 2021, a Citizen Lab research found that they had no insight into what happened with user data once it’s collected and sent back to TikTok’s servers.

A Little Back Story of Citizen Lab Research

Citizen Lab is a research group based at the University of Toronto that investigates digital surveillance and censorship around the world. Recently, there have been allegations that TikTok, the popular social media app, misused research conducted by Citizen Lab. The controversy stems from a report that Citizen Lab published in September 2020, which found that TikTok was censoring content that was critical of the Chinese government.

In February 2021, a TikTok spokesperson referenced the lab’s report in a statement, claiming that the company had made significant changes to its content moderation policies. However, Citizen Lab responded by saying that TikTok had not consulted with them about the changes and that they had no way of verifying whether the changes had actually been implemented.

Chew’s Testimony

In his testimony, Chew talked about TikTok’s independence from China, he said that TikTok itself is not available in mainland China, we’re headquartered in Los Angeles and Singapore, and we have 7,000 employees in the U.S. today. However, numerous lawmakers interrupted his testimony to say they simply don’t believe him. Rep. McMorris Rodgers, said; “To the American people watching today, hear this: TikTok is a weapon by the Chinese Communist Party to spy on you, manipulate what you see and exploit for future generations.”

Also read: Canada Bans TikTok on Government Devices Over Security Concerns


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