From today’s Washington Post:
For a brief moment in a five-hour House hearing on Thursday, TikTok’s CEO Shou Zi Chew let his frustration show. Asked if TikTok was prepared to split off from its Chinese parent company if ordered to do so by the U.S. government, to safeguard Americans’ online data, Chew went on offense.
“I don’t think ownership is the issue here. With a lot of respect: American social companies don’t have a great record with privacy and data security. I mean, look at Facebook and Cambridge Analytica,” Chew said, referring to the 2018 scandal in which Facebook users’ data was found to have been secretly harvested years earlier by a British political consulting firm.
He’s not wrong. At a hearing in which TikTok was often portrayed as a singular, untenable threat to Americans’ online privacy, it would have been easy to forget that the country’s online privacy problems run far deeper than any single app. And the people most responsible for failing to safeguard Americans’ data, arguably, are American lawmakers.
The bipartisan uproar over TikTok’s Chinese ownership stems from the concern that China’s laws could allow its authoritarian government to demand or clandestinely gain access to sensitive user data, or tweak its algorithms to distort the information its young users see. The concerns are genuine. And yet the United States has failed to bequeath Americans most of the rights it now accuses TikTok of threatening.
Read the complete story here.