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March 23, 2023 - TikTok CEO Shou Chew testifies before Congress
By Aditi Sangal, Brian Fung and Catherine Thorbecke, CNN
Chinese Commerce Ministry says it will "firmly oppose" the forced sale of TikTok
From CNN's Martha Zhou in Beijing
If the US forces a sale of TikTok, China's Commerce Ministry would "firmly oppose it," Shu Jueting, ministry spokesperson, said Thursday.
"Ignoring the products and services themselves, and only proceeding from the identity of foreign investors, forcing the sale of TikTok will seriously damage the confidence of investors from all over the world, including China, to invest in the United States," Shu said when asked about the possibility of the US forcing the sale of TikTok.
Shu also explained the sale or divestment of TikTok would need to be done in accordance with Chinese laws and regulations because it involves "technology export issues and administrative licensing procedures."
The Chinese government considers some advanced technology — including content recommendation algorithms — to be critical to its national interest. In December, Chinese officials proposed tightening the rules that govern the sale of that technology to foreign buyers.
Rep. Krishnamoorthi: TikTok probably isn't going away in the US
From CNN's Seth Fiegerman
As talk of a possible TikTok ban grows louder in Washington, at least one member of Congress stressed that the app is unlikely to go away in the United States.
"I strongly doubt this app will go dark," Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi told CNN during its primetime special on Thursday. Instead, he said, the app will likely get sold.
Federal officials are currently demanding the app’s Chinese owners sell their stake in the social media platform, or risk facing a ban of the app.
Rep. Gallagher: We can't ignore TikTok risks "just because of concerns of alienating some teenagers"
From CNN's Samantha Murphy Kelly
The US government cannot ignore TikTok as a potential national security threat, even if efforts to crack down on the company alienate a generation of future voters, Rep. Mike Gallagher told CNN during its primetime special.
"Republicans [and] Democrats agreed this is a threat," Gallagher, the chair of the House Select Committee on China, told CNN. "So we can't ignore it just because of concerns about alienating some teenagers on this app."
"It's a national security issue," he said. "We have to deal with it before it's too late."
'It’d be a shame to lose it': TikTok creator comes out in defense of the app
From CNN's Catherine Thorbecke
TikTok creator Hannah Williams told CNN that she built her business through the app, and now makes some $200,000 a year. A ban would mean a hit to her business, she said.
Williams also stressed how an entire generation of American young people now “live on TikTok,” and don’t want to see it go.
“A lot of our younger community, you know, under 30, they live on TikTok. TikTok is their Google, it's their Yelp," she said. “And I think that it's a really great source for information that a lot of people turn to, and it's where we build a lot of community and gathering.”
“It'd be a shame to lose it,” Williams said.
Fellow TikTok creator Ashley Renne Nsonwu added that TikTok has also helped people from diverse backgrounds find community. “For people like me, you know, Black and brown people of color, it would be very detrimental to us,” she said of a TikTok ban. “It's very upsetting for a lot of us, because we rely on these spaces to talk about issues that really matter to us. And now we're talking about banning that.”
A TikTok ban would help Facebook, Swisher says
From CNN's Catherine Thorbecke
Longtime tech journalist Kara Swisher, host of the "On with Kara Swisher" podcast, kicked off the primetime special by telling CNN that a TikTok ban would be a boon for US tech giants, such as Meta’s Facebook and Instagram.
“The fact of the matter is this will help Facebook Reels,” she said of a possible ban, referring to a copycat feature Meta introduced to complete with TikTok. “It will help a lot of other social media sites, primarily Facebook.”
“And that's one of the issues here again, these legislators should be thinking more broadly across the entire social media spectrum,” Swisher said. She added that some of the issues lawmakers brought up around TikTok, especially surrounding potential harms for teens, "are happening everywhere."
She continued: "And it's happening even among adults, I mean, Twitter is no Nirvana garden party, it's a very toxic place -- and so this is a bigger issue that they should be dealing with, but in this case, they're going to aim at TikTok because of the Chinese government."
"Is Time Up for TikTok?" CNN's primetime special begins
CNN's primetime special, "Is Time Up for TikTok," kicks off at 9 p.m. ET. The special will look at the national security concerns for TikTok as well as the popular app's impacts on younger users — and the efforts of lawmakers and schools to address these issues.
Pay TV subscribers can stream the special live via CNN.com and CNN OTT, and mobile apps under “TV Channels,” or CNNgo where available.
TikTok's CEO testified before Congress today. Here's how it played out
From CNN's Brian Fung
After more than five hours of testimony, we are largely back where we were when the hearing started. US lawmakers remain convinced that TikTok is an urgent threat to national security; TikTok made no new major commitments beyond what it has already promised to do to safeguard user data; and a nationwide ban still seems very much a live possibility.
Few new facts were uncovered in the hearing, but lawmakers took every opportunity to accuse TikTok of actively spying on US users; of failing to moderate content in the way that Douyin, TikTok's Chinese sister app, does under China's strict internet censorship regime; and of effectively being an arm of the Chinese government.
"What you’re saying about Project Texas just doesn’t pass the smell test," said Rep. Angie Craig, referring to the company's program to wall off US user data. "My constituents are concerned that TikTok and the Chinese Communist Party are controlling their data and seeing our own vulnerabilities…. What you’re doing down in Texas is all well and good, but it is not enough to be convinced that our privacy is not at risk."
TiKTok CEO Shou Chew sought to provide nuanced answers and at times attempted to correct lawmakers on misperceptions about the company and its parent — but those responses were often interpreted as bad-faith evasiveness.
It was, in other words, a textbook congressional grilling of a technology CEO.
In a statement after the hearing, TikTok said its CEO "came prepared to answer questions from Congress, but, unfortunately, the day was dominated by political grandstanding that failed to acknowledge the real solutions already underway."
If there was any progress made on Thursday, it was reflected in the breadth of support lawmakers showed for a comprehensive, bipartisan privacy proposal that would create the nation's first-ever federal privacy right — a years-long dream of privacy advocates.
Such a law would govern all businesses' handling of American data in the United States, covering not just TikTok but also other social media companies, data brokers and more. A comprehensive federal privacy law, many members of the panel said, is the only way to ensure the long-term safety of Americans' personal information.
CNN podcast: Will banning TikTok help kids?
From CNN Staff
Gen Z is the first generation to truly grow up online and now they’re joining the fight to log off. In February, college student and founder of the Log Off Movement, Emma Lembke, testified in front of a Senate committee about the impact that social media companies have on youth mental health.
Lembke is one of many activists, including parents and politicians from both sides of the aisle, calling for increased government regulation of social media companies. Dr. Sanjay Gupta talks with CNN Technology Reporter Brian Fung about a Supreme Court case that could open those companies to more lawsuits. Plus, we dive into what we actually know about the privacy concerns surrounding TikTok and if a nationwide ban is possible.
Click here to listen to this episode of Chasing Life
Also, Jen Easterly, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, talks to David Axelrod about the cyber threats from Russia and China, the potential downsides of A.I. and TikTok, and why cybersecurity needs to be a collaborative effort.